Ever since his freshman year at Duke University, all eyes were on Brandon Ingram. His body-type and ability to score drew comparisons to Kevin Durant early, which is tough to live up to. Expectations grew even more when he was drafted 2nd overall to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2016 NBA draft.
As a rookie you could see the potential, but his numbers didn’t show it. Only scoring 9.3 points on 40/29/62 shooting splits. His second year, his numbers began to grow despite the Lakers still being bad. Ingram tied for first in scoring on the team with 16.1 points, and shooting numbers sky-rocketed. The youth of Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle and others seemed to be promising.
Then LeBron James happened, and the inevitable came after. The growth was stunted, his role seemed to disappear and hearing his name being in multiple trade rumors didn’t help his future in Los Angeles. Despite hearing everything about being traded for Anthony Davis, he continued to play well once James went down with a groin injury. The inconsistencies seemed to fade with his shooting, stringing 20-point games with ease beginning in January. A blood-clot in his arm ended his season, and eventually ended his tenure in Los Angeles.
His three years with the Lakers ended with concerns it could end as quick. But the New Orleans Pelicans didn’t care, they took a chance on him in the trade for Davis. They got the young core of Ingram, Ball and Josh Hart; but the main piece was Ingram. He showed signs of brilliance on the offensive end, especially in clutch-time.
Right now, Ingram is living up to those expectations offensively. He’s been nothing short of an assassin, with splits of 52/45/75 with 25.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. All of those numbers are career-highs, along with playing lower minutes than last year. The move to New Orleans has been amazing for Ingram’s growth as a leader.
In the fourth quarter, Ingram shooting percentage raises to 61 percent. Against the Phoenix Suns, he scored 15 points and willed his team to their third-straight win. Ingram is their go-to guy in the clutch and so far so good for the Pelicans.
This is a whole new team for Alvin Gentry to coach, he had Davis to rely on as the best player. This is a mixed-bag team with injuries in a conference that is filled with contenders. Making the playoffs might be a stretch for this Pelicans team. Right now they’re on a three-game win streak and are still without a huge piece; Zion Williamson. Who knows if Ingram’s work-load will go down or not. However, right now Ingram is doing his part in an All-Star fashion. Once this team figures out how to win, this team could be making lots of noise. Ingram could be a big reason why. The comparisons to Durant might be unfair, but he is showing he can play with the best.