A lot of eyes should focus on Brandon Ingram during tonight’s matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers in the semifinals of the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
“I feel like it’s another time for us to go out here and show who we are,” Ingram said in yesterday’s media availability. “We’re not on tv a lot so we get to go out here and have a little bit of fun with the lights on. I know a lot of my teammates like to play with the lights on.”
While a number of his teammates may like to play with the lights on, to be completely fair, no one on the Pelicans has shined brighter than Ingram in big moments these last few years.
Ingram averaged 25.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists over his final 10 games of the 2021-22 season, fueling the team to an 8-2 win-loss record. He proceeded to post averages of 28.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the Pelicans’ two Play-In tournament victories. He was arguably then the best player on the court in the first round playoff series against the Suns, posting a line of 27.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists, with fantastic shooting efficiencies to boot.
Ingram put together a similar performance down the stretch of last season as the Pelicans were fighting for precious positioning in the standings. While the team ultimately failed to make the post season, Ingram did everything in his power to yield a different outcome. Over the final 12 games of the 2022-23 season — in which the team went 9-3, Ingram averaged 29.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.4 assists.
In the regular season finale against the Timberwolves, Ingram dropped a season-high 42 points to go along with 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Ingram also recorded 30 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the Play-In Tournament loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lo and behold, Ingram’s been at it again this season, performing at the height of his powers during the most important games thus far. He’s most responsible for the Pelicans’ 4-1 In-Season Tournament record, thanks to lofty averages of 27.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.2 threes.
Ingram compiled his most effective game to date earlier this week, in the 127-117 quarterfinals win over the Sacramento Kings.
“BI was incredible,” Willie Green said postgame in Monday’s win over the Kings. “He put us on his shoulders and carried us. He hit big shot after big shot. Whenever we needed a big bucket, we put it in his hands and, you know, he’s a big-time player.”
Necessary to this discussion, Ingram has also developed a penchant for killing his former squad. In eight games over the last three seasons, he has sparkling averages of 26.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists against the Lakers. He’s also shot lights out, sporting a 55.2 field goal percentage and an 81.0 free throw percentage.
For comparison sake to one of the all-time greats, LeBron James carries averages of 27.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists, with a 50.3 field goal percentage and a 74.5 free throw percentage, against the Pelicans over the same time frame.
CJ McCollum provided Slam Magazine a brief but excellent synopsis of Ingram last season, stating he “works hard, cares about the game a lot, loves his teammates, wants to win by any means necessary, a basketball junkie, wants to be great. He’s funny. He acts like he’s quiet and shy but he’s not.”
Zion Williamson has often referred to BI as a walking bucket. McCollum flatly stated he’s a major reason for leaving Portland and coming to New Orleans. The rest of his teammates adore him. It’s evident the entire group is always eager to walk into battle behind him.
While Williamson has often been painted as the face of the New Orleans franchise by national media, Ingram’s been the player who’s been in uniform when his team’s needed him the most — excelling in nearly every opportunity too. If the Pelicans can find a way to get past the Lakers tonight, don’t be surprised if Ingram is the one who leads the charge.
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