Early on this year Brandon Ingram seems to be finally living up to his potential, as he has risen his offensive game to a whole new level.
There have always been high expectations set on Brandon Ingram since he came into the league in 2016. It seems early on in the NBA season that he is finally realizing that potential we knew he had. Let’s take a closer look at his offensive game and break down how he has been able to get off to this hot start since being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Starting out 1-6 on the year paired with losing Zion Williamson for the foreseeable future, there hasn’t been much to cheer about early on if you are a Pelicans fan. The one bright spot however has been the play of newcomer Brandon Ingram.
Ingram has been a polarizing player ever since he stepped onto the scene, as people debated whether or not he has what it takes to live up to all the hype he had received. Then the talk changed on Ingram as he suddenly had to have surgery to remove a blood clot in his upper body.
The NBA world has since been anxious to see how Ingram would look coming back from his surgery and with a new team in a completely new environment. So far, the 22-year-old has been everything we could have hoped for and more, as he is now fresh off a career high 40 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
Ingram is absolutely dominating on offense, and has already taken complete control of that side of the ball for the Pelicans. Ingram has looked so good that the comparisons to Kevin Durant are surfacing on NBA twitter:
Although that may seem crazy, so far the comparisons are actually fair. It also helps that both players have the same freakishly long and slim figure, but the shooting and offensive efficiency of Ingram so far has actually been very KD-esque.
Ingram showed some promise of this during the second half of last season, but he is a whole other beast so far this season.
When taking a quick look at his shooting statistics on the year, it is obvious that the reason behind the hot start for Ingram is his efficiency from mid-range.
When shooting from 10 to 16 feet, in his first three years in the league Ingram shot an average of 35.6 percent. So far this season, Ingram has raised that percentage to an incredible 64 percent.
The mid-range has always seemed to be Ingram’s preferred spot on the floor, with a pull-up from the free throw line extended or a mid-range turnaround being his go to moves. Now that he is making those shots at this rate, it seems to be giving him a newfound confidence and in turn opens up other parts of his game.
One big aspect to note about his play so far is he is not settling. Although the mid-range is firing on all cylinders right now, he isn’t just settling for that shot and is driving right to the rim when the opportunity presents itself.
For example, in the Pelicans game vs. the Houston Rockets, there was a play early on in which Ingram got the ball and was matched up with big man Clint Capela. Instead of trying to shoot over Capela, Ingram went right at the Houston big and finished at the rim.
This has been a trend early on, whether it was Capela, Maxi Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks or Paul Millsap of the Denver Nuggets. When Ingram knows he has the clear advantage and can take his defender off the dribble, he is doing it with no hesitation and is finishing well at the rim.
To go with the mid-range and play at the rim, Brandon Ingram has also been an absolute assassin from behind the arc. Last season, Ingram shot a mediocre 31.5 percent from behind the arc on catch-and-shoot situations. In that same scenario this year, Ingram is knocking the shot down at a very impressive 54.8 percent clip.
Although this kind of insane shooting can be a little fluky sometimes in the early stages of a career, this may just be a case of a player having an abundance of newfound confidence.
Being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and having the pressure of turning their entire franchise around can be a lot to handle for a teenager/early 20s guy. Now that he is out of that market and in a much smaller one in New Orleans, Ingram may now finally be able to relax and be comfortable playing basketball again.
This situation on the Pelicans, especially once Zion was out, was begging for Ingram to take control and hit that next level. Ingram has accepted that challenge and is playing his own game right now, not someone else’s like he did last year when he was with LA and LeBron James.
In what he says is a “better environment” in New Orleans, Ingram is playing with the ultimate amount of confidence and is scoring from all three levels on the court at an efficient rate.
Ingram has had the potential tag on him for years now, but so far this season he is turning that potential into production, and with it being the focal point on offense and leading this young New Orleans Pelicans team.