Brandon Ingram’s Elite Playmaking Key to Pelicans’ 3-point Attack

The timing couldn’t have been worse to shoot a season-low 14.3% from 3-point range last Sunday.

The New Orleans Pelicans made three 3s against the Minnesota Timberwolves in their final regular season game. That tied a season low for makes from distance. That was accompanied by 21 3-point attempts, which also placed among the bottom five over the 82-game schedule.

“Not enough,” Willie Green said about the team’s lack of 3-point attempts in Minnesota. “Just not enough. We’ve got to get more quality looks than that.”

The Pelicans are not unlike other teams. The 3-point shot is highly determinative of wins and losses across the league. The Pelicans posted a 23-9 record when they made more 3s than opponents; conversely, they went 14-29 when they finished with less makes from there.

It must be noted that the margin for error has obviously been smaller since Zion Williamson strained his right hamstring on Jan. 2. Moving forward without a highly efficient 26 points per game required the Pelicans to be better in all areas, including their offensive execution. They struggled with that concept for far longer than expected.

Prior to Williamson’s hamstring injury, the offense was humming along at the eighth-best mark in the league (114.7 ORTG). Between Jan. 3 and Mar. 11, the offensive rating checked in fifth worst (111.1 ORTG). Only the Rockets, Hornets, Pistons and Spurs toiled more. It appeared that the Pelicans would never regroup without their young phenom, but they did finally manage the accomplish that feat.

The Pelicans displayed their most efficient offense down the stretch. Brandon Ingram sat front and center of a revival that was responsible for a 117.9 offensive rating from Mar. 17 onwards. If excluding the regular season finale against the Wolves, the offensive rating jumps over a full point to 119.2 — a figure that exceeds the Sacramento Kings record-setting body of work over the course of the season (118.6 ORTG).

Ingram’s stat line during the final 13 games offers a partial explanation: 28.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists, to go along with a 51.1 field goal percentage, a 38.1 3-point percentage and a 90.5 free throw percentage. The number that should jump off the page most though are his 8.1 assists, and delving deeper, those dimes are far more valuable than can be gleamed on the surface.

From Mar. 17 to the season’s conclusion, no player assisted on more 3-point makes than Ingram. His per-game mark of 4.77 3-point assists trailed only Spencer Dinwiddie’s 4.82.

Domantas Sabonis, Luka Doncic, and Dinwiddie finished 1-2-3 in total 3-point assists on the 2022-23 season overall.

Ingram hovered next to the game’s elites in that category over the final weeks, proving him extremely capable of leading a great offense. His performance also represented a significant departure from career norms.

3-point Assists per GameAssist Points per Game
2016-17 season0.684.89
2017-18 season1.689.47
2018-19 season0.926.85
2019-20 season1.8210.18
2020-21 season1.7911.49
2021-22 season2.4913.65
10/19/22 – 3/16/232.1311.81
3/17/23 – 4/9/234.7721.23

When evaluating Most Valuable Player Awards, voters often take into account points created in some manner, as four of the previous five MVP recipients led the league in points created per 36 minutes. Despite not counting screen assists, Ingram’s point and assist point totals over the last 13 games would have placed him among the league leaders in points created on the season.

Drawing comparisons to MVP’s is a worthy discussion alone, but today’s focus is on the Pelicans’ 3-point shooting, which finished 15th in conversion rates (36.1 3PT%) and languished 29th in attempts (30.1 3PA).

Willie Green has often preached to his team to shoot more 3s. That message went unheard at times and the team’s execution in that department fell flat in Minnesota. That can’t occur in the play-in tournament since it’s become a potent weapon for the Pelicans, especially when Ingram is dictating like a play-making savant.

Despite the hideous 3-for-21 shooting performance against the Timberwolves, no team was more proficient from deep than the Pelicans since Mar. 17. The biggest driver of the high 3-point shooting percentage was Brandon Ingram. He absolutely fueled makes from distance.

3PT% via Ingram Passes3PT% via All Other Attempts
Trey Murphy64.9% (24-37)32.0% (24-75)
CJ McCollum58.1% (18-31)35.8% (19-53)
Herb Jones75.0% (9-12)40.0% (6-15)
Josh Richardson58.3% (7-12)37.9% (11-29)
Jonas Valanciunas20.0% (1-5)50.0% (4-8)
Dyson Daniels75.0% (3-4)18.2% (2-11)
Naji Marshall0% (0-2)26.7% (4-15)
Larry Nance Jr.0% (0-1)0% (0-2)

The Pelicans shot an incredible 59.6% (62-104) from 3-point range off Ingram’s passes over the final 13 games of the season. Conversely, they shot 35.4% (90-254) in all other deep-ball instances.

If the Pelicans wish to get past the Thunder today and then the Timberwolves on Friday to advance to the 2023 NBA playoffs, they would be wise to not only seek out a higher volume of 3-balls, Brandon Ingram needs to be at the center of that attack, utilizing his burgeoning facilitating skills at every opportunity.

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59 thoughts on “Brandon Ingram’s Elite Playmaking Key to Pelicans’ 3-point Attack

  1. Don’t understand totally selling out on SGA defensively..these completely wide-open threes are killing us

  2. Josh Richardson is killing us. Love the fact that Jax is the first big off the bench.

    1. One of the best games I have seen him play in a very long time. OKC has nobody to matchup with him. Hopefully we don’t go away from him late in the game for ISO ball.

  3. Major contributions in first half by Herb, Trey, Val, BI (best supporting playmaker) and… Jax?

  4. I really don’t understand how people get away with everything against BI. Dort is bumping and grabbing him on every play and nothing gets called. Meanwhile you barely touch Dort when he is out of control and he gets the call.

  5. Disappointing that Dyson not getting any run in the game..Willie’s weakness as a coach is he plays favorites

    1. My jaw hit the floor when he actually gave Kira minutes early. We need Dice’s defense on these long OKC guards. My issue with Willie is he doesn’t adjust when his favorites aren’t producing. We cannot just let Giddey and SGA eat us up in the paint.

  6. Hayes is one of the worst bigs at rebounds and gotta think of trey as a small when it comes to rebounding because he has no effort

    1. Hayes and Val have been rebounding fine. It’s the guards and forwards who are not helping on the boards.

  7. Wake up Willie we need Dice for rebounding and defense. Take Josh Richardson out he contributes nothing.

  8. Does Naji have something in his contract that requires him to fall on his ass after every drive

    1. Willie only has play calls for two guys. It was either trey or Willie that said, there are no plays called for trey unless he is very hot

  9. We see who the star is between Shai and bi, and sad when herb and trey are the second and 3rd best cj just awful

  10. Willie will have to get better with his game plans down the stretch. The ISO on every possession definitely does not work as we fail to close out games.

  11. If the TBW does not do a season-end critical analysis of D. Griffen’s disastrous job as the GM of the Pels, they are not doing their job.

  12. This game and how change played concerns me for our future. If we can’t get a legitimate pg for when zion gets hurt we can’t go far, bi does not have the handle and cj is not a point guard

    1. Or maybe Willie could just use one of the 3 on the roster. Jose was a huge loss, but the absence of Dice in the last few games was inexcusable from Willie.

  13. I don’t think we can discount the loss of Jose. He brought that next level energy and defense.

  14. Compare the job that OKC did developing their rookies, and the eff-ing up of Dyson that Willie and the rest of his incompetent coaching staff did in developing Dyson.

  15. As long as DG is the Executive Vice President and piano man..making the play-ins will be a Pelican aspirational goal.

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