New Orleans Pelicans: Why wasn’t Brandon Ingram an All-Star?

Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Should the New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram have made the All-Star team?

Zion Williamson is an all-star less than what would have been an entire NBA season into his career. By most accounts, that already constitutes a successful number one pick and I don’t think anyone would blame the New Orleans Pelicans for celebrating their franchise star’s first all-star berth.

However, the Pelicans should also be asking themselves why they didn’t have two all-stars in this year’s showcase game. Their other cornerstone, Brandon Ingram, went unpicked and hasn’t generally been mentioned as a big snub in the ways that others like Devin Booker (prior to being an injury replacement), Trae Young or even DeMar DeRozan.

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There’s no doubt that Ingram has been eclipsed by Zion Williamson in terms of media attention and probably potential and fan adulation. But the NBA should not let narratives control the all-star game—not that they necessarily do, but it is worth remembering that all-star selections often play an important role in superstars’ contracts.

For instance, ESPN reported that Jaylen Brown earned a $1.3 million bonus for his first all-star selection. Last year, Rudy Gobert missed out on a $1 million bonus after not being selected as an all-star. The French center made headlines because of an emotional interview that he gave after being snubbed; yet, the repercussions go beyond that.

New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Ingram deserved more All-Star consideration

Breaking down Ingram’s numbers, there is no reason he should have been completely ignored. Right now, the Pels wing is putting up 24 points and five assists per game. Prior to last year’s February all-star game in Chicago, Ingram was putting up nearly identical numbers—about one point more and one assist less while turning the ball over more.

There are a few reference points to consider in this year’s game. On the east, for instance, Jayson Tatum’s selection was largely exempt from criticism. He’s having a good season no doubt, but I have to question the criteria employed.

Ingram and Tatum’s scoring averages are nearly identical except that the Celtics wing takes about three more field goals per game and his efficiency is significantly worse. Ingram also has the slight edge in terms of playmaking. I understand that Ingram and Tatum belong to different conferences, but my point is more so about how players are being evaluated.

Another argument in Ingram’s detriment could be the Pelicans’ record. Fair enough. As of writing time, New Orleans is not even a .500 team, but I’m not sure those concerns are entirely realistic.

The New Orleans Pelicans were never a shoe-in to make the playoffs, whereas Nikola Vucevic’s Orlando Magic have an even worse record and his selection isn’t under the microscope. Vucevic is one of the best centers in the league and scoring his career high, but Ingram is also one of the best wings in the NBA and scoring his career high. That’s without mentioning that Orlando actually made the postseason last year.

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Ingram might take some solace in that he was recognized by his peers as one of the best players in the league. He was sixth in the west frontcourt in player votes. Yet, that consolation only goes so far.

The sole thing that is truly damning for Ingram is that he just hasn’t demonstrated as much in the big moments compared to the players that were picked above him.

Ingram doesn’t dominate fourth quarters. He only scores about five points in the last period of the game, although some of that might have to do with Stan Van Gundy’s rotation. Ingram plays less than eight minutes in the fourth, which is less than most of the all-stars selected. Some fans have criticized the former Duke forward for taking too many shots in the late stages, but he actually attempts less field goals than Zion Williamson even if it might not feel that way.

Coming up with more signature performances in the clutch might be the next step the former Duke wing has to take. There’ll be plenty more years for Ingram to consolidate himself as an all-star mainstay, but it would not be unfair if he felt frustrated at his omission this year.

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