Brandon Ingram’s Odd Season Helps Tell the Tale of Pels’ Inconsistency

NEW ORLEANS – Brandon Ingram is having an odd season. A few things haven’t changed. He sits towards the top of the Pelicans’ offensive hierarchy for the third straight season, leading the team in usage rate (28.2%) and second in touches per game to CJ McCollum. His overall shot profile has been stable over the last three years regarding his attempts from the rim, mid-range and three.

Yet Ingram, despite a fairly identical offensive role, efficiency and scoring volume, is doing it differently this year. Through his first 27 games, Ingram makes 32.4% of his threes. That’s the lowest mark since his rookie season. He’s scorching inside the arc, though, posting career-high efficiency at the rim and from mid-range.

When Ingram enters the restricted area, he’s hitting an elite 76.1% of his shots there. He’s playing stronger this year, absorbing contact to the rim rather than letting defenders bump him off of his spot. Ingram mastered scoring with length, hanging in the air and letting defenders float by as he lays the ball in softly. Too quick for bigger defenders, Ingram shakes slower forwards and wings with simple yet deadly hang crosses. With his elite touch and stride length, all he needs is an inch of space to separate for a bucket.

This season, Ingram’s off-ball synergy with his teammates — notably Jonas Valanciunas and Trey Murphy — has contributed to the efficiency bump. He cuts and dives off of Valanciunas, their two-man game firing smoothly this year. When Ingram and Murphy share the floor, their chemistry shines. Ingram looks especially comfortable cutting and driving off of Murphy, whose deep-range sniping opens easier lanes for Ingram.

Throughout his time as a star, Ingram’s shotmaking has been stellar. He’s hitting new highs this year, notching career highs in efficiency in floater range (53.1%) and on long mid-range jumpers (51.2%). That shotmaking acts as a trump card for New Orleans, as Ingram bails them out of a stagnating offense often. With the Pelicans’ offense currently at 15th in the league, sputtering and disorganization have been somewhat common this season. But having a weapon like Ingram who can turn bad possessions into good ones with his scoring talent raises the floor for this team greatly.

Despite Ingram’s scoring success inside the arc as well as continually solid passing, the three-point shooting must improve. His spacing issues can cause friction with the Pelicans’ other key pieces, many of whom — Zion Williamson, Herb Jones, Jonas Valanciunas, etc — are shaky shooters at best. Though on-off data is noisy and can be unreliable, the Pelicans are 0.4 points per 100 worse with Ingram on the floor, the first negative on-off split since his third season in the league.

After improvement last year, Brandon Ingram has seen his fourth quarter production drop off considerably this season.

For New Orleans to reach its lofty goals, Ingram must play at his best. He’s an invaluable creator for the Pelicans, especially given Zion Williamson’s struggles this season. For their eventual postseason hopes, Ingram’s three-point shooting needs to regress somewhat, which it very may well do. This could be an extended slump and nothing more. If Ingram can break out of his shooting slump and maintain his efficiency elsewhere, the Pelicans will be in as good a position as ever to make noise deep into the season. 

Written by Ben Pfeifer

For more content, visit HITP Sports on YouTube or HITP Sports online.


Leave a Reply