Last season, not a single member of the New Orleans Pelicans took home any major awards. Some of that had to do with them not having a deserving candidate in certain categories. But a lot of this had to do with them not being a good team during the second half of the year.
That latter portion matters because our inclination as humans to bias toward recent information causes us to over-index on the second part of the season when deciding on who to vote for in these awards. And since the Pelicans were reeling down the stretch (mostly because of Zion Williamson’s injury), most people with votes weren’t paying much attention to them.
This year, the goal is to stay healthy (although it hasn’t necessarily worked out that way so far) all year long. If that happens, we’ll surely be in the mix for a high seed, which means that voters will be more focused on us when they are filling out their ballots.
But who on the Pelicans could be in the running for a major award? Here are seven guys who could add some hardware to their trophy case in 2023-24.
[Sidenote: for the sake of this exercise, when we are saying major awards, we are referring to Most Valuable Player (MVP), Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), Sixth Man of the Year (6MOY), Rookie of the Year (ROY), Most Improved Player of the Year (MIP), Coach of the Year (COY), All-NBA Team, and All-Defensive Team).
1. Trey Murphy III – Most Improved Player of the Year (MIP)
In April, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor called Trey Murphy III a dark horse candidate to win the MIP award in 2023-24. He cited his dual play finishing (via 3-point shooting and lob-finishing) and his defensive upside as key factors in his candidacy.
Unfortunately, a left meniscus injury will cause Murphy to miss at least the first month of the season. While this doesn’t disqualify him from winning the award, it does make doing so a steep uphill battle. Nonetheless, we felt it was important to mention him before getting into the real heavy hitters.