Five things to know about Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram
1) The No. 2 overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, Ingram averaged 9.4 points in 28.8 minutes per game as a rookie, before making significant scoring jumps in his second and third pro seasons, despite not receiving a dramatic increase in playing time (33.5 mpg in ’17-18, then 33.8 mpg in ’18-19). Ingram put up 16.1 ppg in his sophomore NBA campaign, then pushed that to 18.3 last season. The Orange County Register detailed an excellent February/March stretch by Ingram this way: “(The) Lakers have struggled for much of the past two months, (but) Ingram rose above the difficult circumstances, averaging 24 points on 53.4 percent shooting and emerging as a legitimate complementary piece to LeBron James.”
2) Ingram’s ’18-19 season ended early due to a blood-clot issue in his right arm, but he underwent March surgery for the problem and doctors noted that he was “expected to make a full recovery within three to four months.” The Los Angeles Times reported that “doctors thought the problem was structural, not hematological, or a disease of the blood… (The) clot was caused when a vein in his arm became pinched, with not enough room for the blood to flow through it. Eventually it clotted… surgery corrected the structural problem in his vein.”
3) The 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward is part of a rapidly growing contingent of members of the New Orleans Pelicans organization who have ties to Duke University. Ingram, who averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds during his one college season with the Blue Devils, joins fellow Duke products on the Pelicans roster that include Frank Jackson, Jahlil Okafor and Zion Williamson, as well as New Orleans GM Trajan Langdon. Incidentally, Ingram was actually not a college teammate of any of his new Pelicans teammates, missing Okafor (played ’14-15 in Durham) and Jackson (’16-17) by one season apiece. Duke’s ’15-16 squad also featured current NBA players Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard.
4) Ingram’s physical attributes and skill set fit well in the contemporary NBA, where versatility is coveted by all 30 teams. The 21-year-old logged a notable amount of minutes at shooting guard, small forward and power forward as a member of the Lakers, featuring the ballhandling, perimeter shooting and athleticism needed to fill the pair of wing spots, but also the length to move to the “four” position in smaller, quicker lineups. He’s primarily been used as a small forward, however, with 73 percent of his NBA minutes coming at that “three” slot, according to Basketball Reference. Perhaps partly due to injuries, he was used in a greater array of positional roles last season by the Lakers, compared to his first two seasons.
5) The native of Kinston, N.C., has become increasingly efficient offensively as his NBA career has progressed, including a career-best field-goal percentage of 49.7 last season. Ingram has gradually altered his shot selection, going against the grain of today’s game by taking fewer three-pointers each year. That’s helped to boost his overall percentage, but he’s also gotten better at making twos, going from 44.3 percent as a rookie, to 48.3 in Year 2, to 52.1 percent last season. He averaged 23.3 points in three matchups vs. New Orleans in ’18-19, his second-highest scoring rate against any Western Conference opponent last season (26.0 ppg vs. Memphis in two meetings).