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Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday befitting of awards and accolades but other New Orleans Pelicans deserve mention too

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Handing out the Most Valuable, Most Improved, Most Disappointing and Special Shoutout Awards!

NBA: Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Picking from the New Orleans roster only, give me your Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player, Most Disappointing Player and who was probably most deserving of a Special Shoutout Award.

Jason:

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis

Won’t take home the NBA MVP but an easy choice when only considering Pelicans.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

I was so proud of him this season to finally stay on the court and show what the Pelicans saw in him in the first place.

Most Disappointing Player - Solomon Hill

I genuinely hope Hill gets dumped this offseason. He provides almost no value on the court, and the injuries only make it worse.

Special Shoutout - Jordan Crawford

For dropping an efficient 14 points in a playoff game and then never seeing the court again. I really hope New Orleans brings Crawford back for another bench role. Also Rajon Rondo deserves some love. He has always been one of my favorite players and to see him perform the way he did in the playoffs warmed my heart. If he comes back next season, I am getting his jersey.

Kevin:

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis

When you have a player who is actually a top three MVP and Defensive Player of the Year vote getter, it’s foolish to even try to go down some sort of Devil’s Advocate rabbit hole and pick anyone other than Anthony Davis.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

Unleashing the Iverson part of my “Jrue Holiday is the Tim Duncan of Allen Iversons” analogy on offense while also taking his already spectacular defense to another level easily ensures him as the Most Improved.

Most Disappointing Player - Darius Miller

It’s hard to give Most Disappointing Player to Miller considering the lack of expectations coming in, but when you compare at his level of play as the 2017 portion of the schedule was closing out, his inability to stay effective and active down the stretch became a huge disappointment. It’s mainly disappointing because his fall off seems to be such a mental thing and his inability to break through that is sad.

Special Shoutout - Rajon Rondo

Rondo deserves the special shoutout. He’s certainly had off games, but the importance of his presence, his attitude and his level of play especially once Boogie went out were so important to this team’s success.

Jamile:

NBA: Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Most Valuable Player - DeMarcus Cousins

Boogie helped the Pels believe in something better was possible. If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ve played basketball before and know the sinking feeling when picked up on a team that has no chance to win. You’re stuck there with some old guy with Bo Outlaw specs, and another teammate you just watched air ball a layup...my point is, it’s deflating. That’s how Anthony Davis has probably felt his entire career prior to this season. Davis found another gear in 2017/18 and I think that’s partly because felt he was actually playing for something. Once Davis’ competitive fire was lit, no one could put it out, not even after Cousins was lost to injury. Boogie’s very presence created a sense of urgency that focused everyone in the organization behind the singular goal of keeping Cousins this summer. That focus drove them all season, even without Boogie. Ironically they might now be moving on from him.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

I always knew Jrue Holiday was a good player, but he had never truly shown his full potential on a consistent basis. This season he seemed to put it all together and became the consistent second star Anthony Davis has always needed. From strong dunks to smothering defense, Holiday’s finger prints were all over this season. It was great to see him finally get some of the recognition he’s deserved for so long.

Most Disappointing Player - Solomon Hill

Has to be Solomon Hill. Of course getting injured was not Hill’s fault, but the Pelicans were really counting on some potential improvement from Hill this season. For him to get seriously injured before the season even started was definitely a big blow. Couple that with his hideous play when he returned late in the season and its an easy choice for this distinction. This contract is not aging well.

Special Shoutout - Jrue Holiday’s Hair

Honorable mention is 100% Jrue Holiday’s hair. From the twist to the breads or that sweet sweet afro, Holiday always kept us guessing and added some welcomed personality and intrigue to the dog days of the NBA season.

Preston:

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis

Davis not only deserves the mantle of Most Valuable Player for the New Orleans Pelicans, an argument can be made that AD is the best two-way player in the game today. In an age where Most Valuable Players seemingly don’t need to play defense, AD is going to finish inside the top three for both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Awards.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

Holiday stands alone as far as Most Improved candidates go. Once Rajon Rondo was added to the mix, coupled with the good health of his family, Jrue Holiday put together some of the best numbers of his career, even before the injury suffered to DeMarcus Cousins. But Jrue would continue building on his season with Boogie out of the lineup, putting together a masterful and dominant performance in the first round against the one of the league’s premier backcourts.

Most Disappointing Player - Dante Cunningham/Solomon Hill

Most disappointing finish has to be a tie between Cunningham and Hill. Dante was dreadful from the start of the season, to the day he was shipped to Brooklyn in exchange for additional space under the luxury tax. Much was expected from him after the three-point shooting leap he made in the previous season (at least numbers wise). After his departure, twelve million dollar stopper Solo was set to give the Pelicans a jolt off the bench, but never quite regained his form following his torn hamstring.

Special Shoutout - E’Twaun Moore

This award needs to go to Moore, who played out of position all season long, didn’t miss a game, and provided team leading three-point shooting. Also, how about that impressive defense on C.J. McCollum and Klay Thompson in the playoffs?

David:

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis

Davis stepped up this season, especially after DeMarcus Cousins went down. Davis is beginning to grow into a leader. He was the anchor defensively. His gravity diving to the rim is what made everything work on offense. Davis doesn’t just do one thing well or efficiently. He does everything that’s asked of him efficiently and he doesn’t just do it at one end of the court, unlike other MVP candidates around the league.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

Holiday took his game to another level this season. He had long stretches during the winning streaks where he exceeded everyone’s even most optimistic expectations. I am really excited to see what next year brings because I think the attitude and swagger Holiday developed at the end of the season and in the postseason is going to carry over.

Most Disappointing Player - No one

There was not a player that stood out to me as a big disappointment this season. Most of the role players exceeded my (albeit moderate) expectations this season. Darius Miller was fine, but he could be more aggressive attacking closeouts. Cheick Diallo was out of control at times, but he’s a young guy without a ton of NBA minutes under his belt. Nikola Mirotic was hot and cold, but on the balance warmer than expected.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Special Shoutout - E’Twaun Moore

But, if we’re giving a player a special shoutout it has to be Moore. That’s my guy on this team. He does so much good stuff, little stuff, hard to ask someone who is only 6’4” stuff for this roster. Every time he misses a couple big shots in a row fans start clamoring to get rid of Moore as if they expect Klay Thompson-esque consistency from a role player. That’s not gonna happen. Moore, considering his role and abilities, outperformed his contract this season.

Oleh:

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis

There wasn’t a bigger force on the court in the entire NBA than Davis. The suffocating defense, the explosive offense, all that amazing versatility, and this season, he learned to bring a superstar’s confidence — he made good on his promise of bringing a Russell Westbrook mentality — to the office every single day. Also, those ever-important leadership qualities finally blossomed.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

Do you know that feeling of daydreaming about the potential ceiling of a hyped new addition to your favorite roster? Well, it’s five years later than hoped, but Holiday burst through the thickest walls of the Smoothie King Center like the Kool-Aid man. “Oh yeah!

With Davis and Holiday taking their games to such elite levels, New Orleans seems in prime position to string together a long run of playoff appearances and accompanying successes.

Most Disappointing Player - Dante Cunningham

This one’s clear as day to me. Unlike those who were sidelined with injury, Cunningham didn’t have an excuse for his lame play. On most nights, it looked like he would have preferred to be anywhere other than in New Orleans and you only have to glance at the difference in his production per 36 minutes for two teams this season.

Dante Cunningham PTS REB ASTS STLS BLKS FGA 3FG% FT%
New Orleans 8.2 6.2 0.8 0.9 0.5 7.3 32.4% 55.6%
Brooklyn 13.2 8.5 1.8 1.0 1.1 11.2 38.3% 68.8%

I get that he didn’t land a multi-year contract last summer like he had hoped, but that’s on Dante and his representation. Just incredibly disappointing stuff from a player renowned for being as professional as they come and it still bothers me that I vouched so hard for his return close to one year ago.

Special Shoutout - Nikola Mirotic

The addition of Mirotic to the roster saved the Pelicans season. While his earlier performances were a mixed bag, once he found his comfort zone he emerged as the Pelicans third most productive and versatile player. And how could you not fall in love with his effort and repeated demonstrations of his love for New Orleans and his new teammates?

Travis:

Most Valuable Player - Anthony Davis

I mean, c’mon.

Most Improved Player - Jrue Holiday

He went from “really good, sometimes” to maybe the best two-way combo guard in the league. He can’t guard Kevin Durant, but hey, who can?

Most Disappointing Player - Take your pick

This one is hard. Due to injury, I’d say Frank Jackson. Looking only at stats, I’d say Ian Clark (but I still like what he did out there). Combination of the two, I’d say Solomon Hill.

Special Shoutout - E’Twaun Moore

Moore had a career year. We have to acknowledge that he’s one of the best catch and shoot 3-point shooters in the league, a pesky and surprising shot creator and decent defender for his size. Way to go, E’Twaun!