Fans vote on which Pelicans deserve these midseason awards

Larry Nance Jr. & Jose Alvarado, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Larry Nance Jr. & Jose Alvarado, New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Okay, before we begin, let’s get the elephant out of the room right now. The New Orleans Pelicans have played 59 games already. That’s nearly three-fourths of their designated schedule. This is not the official midway point of the season.

But guess what? That’s what everyone calls it for some reason. So, that’s what we are going with. Cool? Cool.

Now that that’s out of the way, with the season now at its not really but sort of midseason mark, we decided to poll the fans on our Twitter page (@PelicanDebrief) to see which Pelicans they think are the most deserving of being the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), Most Improved Player (MIP), and Sixth Man of the Year (6MOY) at this point in the season.

For each category, we at Pelican Debrief picked the four candidates in contention for these awards, but outside of that, we left the rest of the selection process in the hands of Pelicans faithful.

We didn’t include categories like Rookie of the Year (ROY) and Coach of the Year (COY) because there was only one real choice for each of those categories.

Now, without further ado, here are the results of our sampling.

New Orleans Pelicans Sixth Man of the Year (6MOY)

For suspense-inducing purposes, we are going to build up from the perceived least prestigious accolades to the most coveted ones. No offense to our spark plugs off the bench, but being 6MOY does imply that you are not a starter. Meanwhile, the other three awards are typically given to players firmly entrenched in the introductory unit (although who starts the game isn’t nearly as telling as who finishes it, but I digress).

Anyway, for this poll, we ended up getting 91 votes, with fans having the option to choose from Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado, and Larry Nance Jr.

Spoiler alert, this was our closest category, with three players (Marshall, Alvarado, and Nance) each receiving 25% of the vote. However, Nance ultimately prevailed, capturing 38.5% of the vote.

New Orleans Pelicans Most Improved Player of the Year (MIP)

As we know, the winners of this award are usually younger players, as they are the ones who are most likely to demonstrate a significant leap in their game from one year to the next. So, to account for this trend, we included four players who were either in their second or third years as NBA players.

The four choices were Alvarado, Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy III, and Naji Marshall. And the winner, receiving 53.3% of the 107 fan votes, was none other than 2023 AT&T Slam Dunk Contest runner-up Murphy, who, among other things, went from averaging 5.4 PPG on 55.8% True Shooting (TS) as a rookie to averaging 12.9 PPG on 63.8% TS as a sophomore.

New Orleans Pelicans Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY)

As the seventh-ranked defense in the league, there were a handful of worthy candidates to choose from. The four players nominated for this category were Jones, Marshall, Alvarado, and Nance.

While Alvarado has clearly taken courses at the Patrick Beverley school of being a professional pest, and Marshall’s constant off-ball roaming sometimes makes you wonder if there’s five of him on the court at once, this award ultimately ended up being a two-player race.

Nance made a strong push garnering 32.7% of the vote, but it was not enough to best the team’s premier perimeter stopper, as Jones emerged victorious, receiving exactly 50% of the 98 votes.

New Orleans Pelicans Most Valuable Player (MVP)

Last, but certainly not least, we have our award for the team’s midseason MVP. The available options here were Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, and Jonas Valanciunas.

This one was tricky because, while Ingram and Williamson are clearly the team’s two best players on a per-minute basis, both of them have missed more games than they have played up to this point. Meanwhile, McCollum has appeared in 52 of 59 games, and Valanciunas an even more dependable 58 of 59.

So the voting process came down to a matter of philosophy. What means more to you, per-minute impact or availability?

In this instance, per-minute impact prevailed (by a landslide), as the team’s lone 2023 All-Star won the unofficial award with 53.4% of the 103 votes placed.

So, to recap, here are our unofficial midseason award winners:

Larry Nance Jr. – 6MOY

Trey Murphy III – MIP

Herbert Jones – DPOY

Zion Williamson – MVP

If you want to be a part of the action the next time we do an exercise like this, or if you just want to be kept to date on all things pertaining to our beloved Pelicans, be sure to follow us on Twitter @PelicanDebrief.