Pelicans: Concerns over Brandon Ingram’s defense are overblown

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat drives against Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat drives against Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans need to get better defensively and that starts with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

The duo is elite when it comes to durability and scoring but has fallen short on the defensive end in their first full season together.

This has become the new obsession of angry Pelicans’ fans on Twitter, who are now declaring the pairing a bust, mostly because of Brandon Ingram’s defense.

First off, Ingram absolutely needs to get better on defense and no one is denying that.

But the amount of panic I’ve seen recently is completely unwarranted if you take a look at the numbers.

New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Ingram’s defense

There isn’t really a perfect way to measure defense in the NBA, as it is a team effort and there isn’t a great individual statistic to measure it in my opinion since numbers are so reliant on what the other guys are doing.

Ingram has a defensive rating of 114.9, which is not good, but is totally in line with some of the other elite scorers in the league. Is anyone saying the Nets shouldn’t pair Kevin Durant and James Harden because Harden can’t defend?

Harden has a defensive rating of 114.6, slightly better than Ingram’s. Same with Bradley Beal, who is at 114.6 on the season.

Defensive rating is an imperfect measurement for sure and the eye test says that Ingram often isn’t keeping his guy out of the lane, disrupting many shots or using his length effectively, all things that he must improve.

No one is denying that, but you’d think the guy was a bum and not a 23-year-old All-Star who scores 24 points a game with five rebounds and five assists.

By the way, the Pels’ two worst defenders by defensive rating are Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe. Again, the eye test will tell you different things but it’s not like Ingram is surrounded with elite defenders himself.

The New Orleans Pelicans need more help on defense than Brandon Ingram is ever likely to provide, but you take the bad with the good when you are talking about one of the elite young scorers in the game.

Zion and Ingram definitely need to improve, but once they have a more balanced team around them with a few other guys who can defend, those numbers won’t look so bad.

The Pelicans have two of the best young players in the NBA, and yes, neither of them is a very good defender yet, but there is time for them to get there and for the Pelicans to build a better roster around them.

By all accounts, Ingram has an incredible work ethic and desire to be great, but it takes time to become a good defender in the NBA, especially when you are expected to carry a huge burden offensively.

Next. The Pelicans' roster will be radically different next season. dark