New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram is a budding superstar and one that no one seems to be talking about this season
When talking about who can usher in the next great era of basketball when the superstars of today retire, we mention names like Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Devin Booker. One guy who we need to start talking about more is Brandon Ingram.
Brandon Ingram is in the midst of a breakout season for the New Orleans Pelicans. On the year, Ingram is pouring in 25.9 points, grabbing 7.4 rebounds, dishing out four assists per game, while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor, 41 percent from 3, and 81 percent from the free-throw line.
All those numbers, except for his field goal percentage, are up from last year. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as Ingram has steadily improved, increased his scoring average every season he’s been in the league. Now in his fourth season, Ingram is starting to put it all together.
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Ingram showed flashes at the end of last season of how high his ceiling can climb. Post-All-Star break last year, Ingram averaged 27.8 points and 7.5 rebounds on 57 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3. From post-All-Star break last year till now, Ingram has looked like the next NBA superstar, but why?
Coming into the NBA, Ingram drew comparisons to Kevin Durant due to his size and length. Ingram however, was not as polished and skilled as Durant was entering the league. Durant was a walking bucket from Day 1, averaging 20.3 points as a rookie and leading the league in scoring by his third season.
Ingram’s progression was slower out the gates, but his trajectory was always linear. He’s improved every season, which is culminating into the player you see before your eyes today.
What makes Ingram so deadly this season is his efficiency. Ingram was very raw coming into the NBA. He settled for too many long 2-pointers, he wasn’t a consistent outside shooter and he didn’t know how to use his height to his advantage yet.
Last year, 34.5 percent of Ingram’s shots came between 10 feet and the 3-point line. He made a shade under 41 percent of those shots. In contrast, only about 13 percent of his shots came above the 3-point line, while connecting on 33 percent of them.
Basically, Ingram was a poor man’s Carmelo Anthony, without the 3-point volume. Instead of driving to the basket and using his length to cause problems, or taking that one extra step back behind the 3-point line, Ingram would settle for the most inefficient shot in modern basketball, the mid-range.
This season, Ingram has a lot more balance to his game. His percentage of shots from 10 feet to the 3-point line dipped to 27 percent, while a career-high 31 percent of his offense is now behind the 3-point line.
This change in decision-making has led to more efficient numbers. Now he’s hitting about 49 percent of those long 2’s and 41 percent on his 3-point attempts.
Alvin Gentry deserves a lot of credit also for how well Ingram has looked this season. Gentry has moved Ingram to mostly the power forward this year while allowing him to be the primary ball-handler with a team-high 29.8 percent usage percentage.
With Ingram’s athleticism, skill, and length he is too quick off the dribble for most power forwards, blowing right by them for the easy deuce or creating the space necessary to get an easy jump shot off.
Watching Brandon Ingram, it’s easy to tell he is a totally different player than the guy we saw his first couple of seasons in the league. It’s not just his counting numbers that improved, but Ingram’s overall mentality. His confidence is on a whole new level and it’s being shown through his play on the court.
Ingram is very decisive with the ball now; he knows what he wants to do and he doesn’t hesitate. As a Laker, he was always unsure of when to attack because he didn’t want to be selfish with the ball and hold it too long, thus ending in many contested long two’s
Now, he picks his spots, while staying consistently aggressive. There is not an area on the floor Ingram can’t get to and go to work. He gets in his offense way quicker now and knows what he should do with the ball. If the shot is there for him to take, he won’t hesitate to rise up and shoot it over his defender or take two long strides and get to the bucket. If the defense comes to get the ball out of his hands, he finds the open guy quickly and on time.
Currently, there is no way to guard Ingram. With a wingspan as long as Giannis, but the efficiency of Durant, there is nothing a defense can do, but bring a double team and try to get the ball out of his hands.
If Ingram continues to stay on his linear trajectory there is no telling where his potential can land. He has the tools and make-up to be with the legends like Kevin Durant. Only time will tell how far Ingram’s potential can climb.