The New Orleans Pelicans selected the most sought-after prospect in the 2019 NBA draft, Zion Williamson, as the No. 1 overall pick. In 2020, he made the All-Rookie First Team, having registered 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 24 appearances. Williamson had a good run the previous season, recording a career-high 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, having featured in 61 games for the Pels. He led the team in points and field goals and completed the 3rd best number of rebounds in the 2020-21 NBA season.
With Williamson recovering from his fractured right foot surgery, Brandon Ingram is expected to lead the Pels pending when Williamson returns. Ingram was second-best in scoring, putting up 23.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in 61 games for the Pelicans.
Brandon Ingram's opportunity to hoard the spotlight
The 24-year-old was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He spent 3 seasons with the Lakers averaging 13.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He didn't live up to the expectations set and was later traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for the 2019-20 season, where he was selected for his first NBA All-Star game in his debut season with the Pels. He was also announced as the 2020 Most Improved Player of the Year, having exhibited a stellar performance, recording an average of 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game with a field goal percentage of .463.
Ingram is more than capable of taking the reigns and being the change that's expected in the coming season. The Slenderman we saw on January 16, 2020, who put up a career-high of 49 points in a game against the Brooklyn Nets could lead the Pelicans to the playoffs after a three-year absence. The preseason fixtures against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls will paint a picture of how important Ingram will be to the Pels.
Although Ingram is a talented player with a high basketball IQ and scoring accuracy, if he is to become a formidable force and lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a good campaign run, he'd need to work on his defense as he comes off as lazy on defense and offers very little help to his team. The 6-foot 8-inch small forward is almost impossible to stop on offense with his ability to score under the rim and read the game.