Against the Wind

Published: April 28, 2013

Against the wind
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’
Against the wind

— Bob Seger, Against the Wind


Greivis Vasquez came in second this year in the voting for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Paul George won the award handily. The relevant data is reproduced here:

Player 1st Place (5 Pts) 2nd Place (3 Pts) 3rd Place (1 pts) Total
Paul George (Indiana) 52 14 9 311
Greivis Vasquez (New Orleans) 13 19 24 146
Larry Sanders (Milwaukee) 10 25 16 141

Of the 120 voters, nearly half considered George to the the top candidate, over half considered him in the top 2, and 5 of 8 thought him in the top 3. Vasquez and Sanders were very close to another another but a league behind George. Vasquez attracted the attention of more first and third place voters than Sanders, while Sanders received more second place votes. Vasquez received primarily third place votes and more second place votes the first place votes. So, while Vasquez wasn’t close in the voting, he was one of only 3 players to get attention from over 50 voters.

Other vote-getters of interest to Pelicans fans include Ryan Anderson (a single first place vote) and Robin Lopez (a single third place vote). Jarrett Jack and Louisiana native Greg Monroe also received votes.

The New Orleans Pelicans are holding a conference call with Season Ticket Holders this Tuesday evening at 6 CDT. We’ll report out the content.

Earlier this week, there was a season-ending press conference with Mickey Loomis, Dell Demps, and Monty Williams. It was a nice to watch, but there is nothing really earth-shattering. Monty will be learning from other coaches over the Summer and the team will listen to any trade offers, including those for Eric Gordon, for instance.

I took note of the both Dell and Monty discussing giving all the players chances in many situations and that they have no questions about how their players play and react in many situations. To me, this is both very important and cements what we’ve been claiming here for a while: Player and team development has been overriding team performance this season, as it should be.

Video Part 1

Video Part 2


Jim Eichenhofer has an article that reiterates what has been noted for a while: The trades this past summer were a known step back this season that would make the first Pelicans season and offseason as impressive as possible.

Look for opportunities this summer to participate in the fleshing out of the Pelicans brand.

Around the Site

There was one In the NO podcast this week, and it focused on many aspects of the coming offseason.

Hornets247 is steadily kicking out a Season in Review series. Here are the players covered so far:

Robin Lopez
Brian Roberts
Austin Rivers
Anthony Davis
Lou Amundson
Ryan Anderson
Jason Smith

Also, Mike looked at Bledsoe’s trade value and which players the Pelicans can acquire that would work well together.

`Voices’ of the People

He definitely hit his lows but i have no doubt he will become a solid player. Austin Rivers needs to work on his offensive game. I have a feeling he will be spending a lot of hours with his dad and some veterans working on that. I agree that he has the intangibles to be successful.
Watching Austin Rivers develop will go hand in hand with the team developing. As he gets better, so will the team. I have big expectations for him and the rest of the team moving forward.


Several times Amundson came in for Aminu and Amundson superior defensive skills were inspiring. While Aminu took his man’s first fake, Amundson often stopped them in their tracks making them kick the ball back out. His offensive game’s not much, but I’d love to see him back with the second unit.


I really like Eric Bledsoe and what he will bring defensively and offensively. Exactly what Coach Monty said he wanted describes Eric Bledsoe. Playing a couple years behind CP3 and where he is in his career, I think he’s ready to run a team full time. Yes, after this year we will have to pay him a lot, but with the cap space we have and what he brings it’s worth it. Obviously, I don’t think we should give up Ryno, but a package of Lopez and other things will be enough, in my opinion.


42 Sense

It should be noted that George, while a very good player, actually declined in some important areas as his minutes dramatically increased, which is expected. In fact, his improvement really came in the prior season, not this one.

So, looking back at the past 5 winners (Paul George 12-13, Ryan Anderson 11-12, Kevin Love 10-11, Aaron Brooks 09-10, Louisiana’s own Danny Granger 08-09), we look for some patterns.

Improvement? No. Well, not that in the season of winning the award. Love showed real improvement the year he won, as did Granger, but the others showed their improvement prior to that season.

So, we have yet another misnamed or `fuzzy’ award. Fine. Let’s sort out what exactly Vasquez didn’t win.

And before we get into this, let me say: Vasquez is very good at some things and was an important part of the last New Orleans Hornets squad. Poking at this award is not a poke at Greivis. Quite the contrary. These sorts of awards are pretty meaningless to me, as what players bring to a franchise often hard to `box’ in the way these awards try to do. Of course, that’s what awards do: they generate discussion. That’s all. If there was a formula, there’d be no vote or nothing to talk about. All a sports franchise wants is to be talked about, in winning or in losing. The winning, titles, and stars just help that important business factor come to fruition.

At any rate, aside from Granger, most of these players saw an increase in minutes, and some made the move to starter in that season. It can be argued that increasing production, or even holding it, while increasing minutes and competition is in fact improvement. I’ll agree with that, but in the case of Aaron Brooks, it’s not just me that thinks that this is not necessarily enough improvement when compared against the competition: Kevin Durant in Brooks’ case, and Durant played better and showed more improvement.

Minutes increases seem to matter, whether the move to starter is made or what already in place, since they influence bulk stats, which seem to be more important than efficiency in these awards. Playoff appearances don’t seem to matter as neither Brooks nor Granger made the playoffs the year they won, and Brooks won over the playoff-bound Durant. Scoring improvement seems to be a factor (Brooks put up a larger points per game improvement than Durant . . . barely).

There also seems to be an `oops’ factor. If a guy can convince the voters that he was overlooked before with his current play, that seems to matter. A breakout season like Love’s can do it to.

So, in the end . . . it’s hype, and a way for the media to say “oops” by saying the opposite: You changed, not us; we were right the whole time.

How this applies to Greivis: If he can keep up the heavy minutes next season, keep up the passing, and improve his scoring, he’ll be able to win. That seems like it’ll be hard to do. Durant was in the top 3 twice. That’s all I noticed in the data set. Greivis just had no chance without the hype. Sure, second can be considered close . . . until you look at the margin of victory, why it was so large, and the distribution of votes he got. The fact that the General could even crack the top 3 says something about Vasquez’s next contract if nothing else. Plus, he won over a number of people with his passion and struggle to do what he could within his limitations all season. I know I have tremendous respect for our lead guard.

This little exercise has only solidified by dismissal of such self-indulgent awards.

A win is an award. Go win some games if you are a player than wants an award, because that you can control and you get it with your team against against people in fair competition for it.


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