Willy, MVP in ostracism

On September 18, 2022, Spain became the Eurobasket champion. It was absolutely unexpected gold: no one had a national team without a single name, except for Rudy Fernández, his golden generation. Along with the main figures of the NBA (Giannis, Jokić, Dončić…) they are looking for their gold in FIBA ​​basketball. With many young and inexperienced people facing theoretically more powerful teams against whom nothing could be done in principle. But Sergio Scariolo, in another demonstration of his well-known magic, brought out the best in a squad with some flaws to compete against all and go out to a tournament full of stars.

It was the last great machada Familythat denomination converted to childhood who is today the world and European champion and who has been for almost 20 years It extracted oil and won medals with one rival it could not overcome: the United States. The only blemish, if any, of a generation that is no longer there, but that had continuity in a group that inherited courage and honor and a coach who knows how to get the best out of everything that happens in the team.

That day was not only the consolidation of the group, but also of one player: Willy Hernangómez. The Spanish center redeemed himself in an exceptional tournament where he averaged 17.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per night. and he performed well in duels against NBA centers such as Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania), Daniel Theis (Germany) or Rudy Gobert (France). And he formed an exceptional duo with the nationalized Lorenzo Brown, another great hero of the national team. It was the summer of Willy, Gasol’s successor in the area, Eurobasket that ended with him and his brother Juancho hugging together with Rudy, crying and wearing the jersey of Sergi Llull, absent due to injury. In other words: Photography.

Willy promised them great luck after Eurobasket, but the NBA once again showed that it waits for no one and is not interested in what happens in FIBA ​​basketball. The center returned to the dynamics of his team in the Pelicans, but expectations were not met: no minutes, no opportunities. Without anything. The projection of the New Orleans franchise, which a few months ago reached the playoffs for the first time since the departure of Anthony Davis, prevented coach Willie Green from experimenting with the deepest part of the bench. And the competition in his position does not allow Willy to have any continuity or even minutes in the game this season.

Jonas Valanciunas is the team’s starting center without question, but other than that, Willy is left with nothing. Larry Nance Jr. He has established himself as the backup center, and Zion Williamson, the team’s star, is also getting minutes at that position. And Willy is doomed to squander what little free time he has left with Jaxson Hayes, a struggling basketball player who was the eighth pick in the 2019 draft.. A situation that is still desperate for a player who has beaten some of his closest rivals at the Eurobasket; without further ado, in the duel against Valanciunas in the quarterfinals, despite the fact that Lorenzo Brown was the leader of his team, Willy went to 21 points and 8 rebounds, and the Lithuanian remained at 5 + 6. And he also beat Domantas Sabonis (15+ 9). It’s here.

And now that?

Willy’s limitations are well-known: problems with rebounding and intimidation, difficulty stopping more skilled offensive players and finishing outside attacks. Lance Jr. gives more security to Wille Green, who wants to secure behind; and does not interfere in the attack, Willy’s forte that, however, goes up against a very talented team on the other side of the track, with Brandon Ingram and the aforementioned Zion as the protagonists. Hayes did not show more than Willy in his time on the field (barely 5 games), but being the project’s third center who wants to make it past the playoffs condemns you to ostracism and a season that, if nothing changes, may remain empty.

The situation borders on desolation: Willy has only appeared on the court in 6 of 18 games, with 11:35 of maximum playing time, the only game in which he reached double-digit minutes. Nothing counts in Green’s scheme and he appears destined to spend in dry dock for a good portion of at least the second of three seasons he signed with the Pelicans for more than $7 million., the goal of the player and his environment to ensure his short-term stay in the NBA. But the option, if the Pelicans do not worsen the results and desperate situations are sought (7-6, eighth in the West), is through a transfer that takes the center to a better place (in February, the Pelicans could strengthen for the final part of the class) in which to enjoy the minutes and establish yourself as a reliable center (has points, rebounds…) in the best league in the world. The real MVP condemned to the worst face of basketball. it is so.

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