The New Orleans Pelicans are hoping to claw their way into the NBA play-in tournament to save what has been a somewhat disappointing season.
There is still a realistic path for them to get there, but that journey just got a little more difficult with the news that Brandon Ingram will miss at least the next game with a low ankle sprain.
This injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the young Pelicans only have six games left to make up the 1.5 games separating them and the 10th-place Spurs.
So how will Ingram’s injury affect the Pels’ chances at making the play-in tournament? Let’s take a look.
New Orleans Pelicans: Offense without Brandon Ingram
The Ingram haters came out of the woodwork after the Pelicans beat the Warriors in the last game, claiming that the Pels played better without him.
There is little to support this argument on the offensive end.
Ingram is second on the Pelicans in scoring, usage rate, percentage of team points and offensive win shares and it’s by a wide margin.
Out of the eight lineups that have played at least 50 minutes together, Ingram is part of the top-five of them in scoring. In other words, the Pelicans’ offense is better when he is on the floor.
Without him, the Pels are going to have to rely on the streaky Lonzo Ball and his up-and-down 3-point shooting.
The Pelicans can still have a good offense without Ingram but everyone else is going to have to step up and even then it won’t be easy.
New Orleans Pelicans: Defense without Brandon Ingram
Ingram definitely won’t be missed as much on the defensive end and the Pelicans will arguably get better with Naji Marshall playing his minutes.
Of those same eight lineups, the worst two in terms of defensive rating both contain Brandon Ingram, while the Pels’ best defensive lineup by far does not have him in it.
The lineup of Zion Williamson, James Johnson, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr. and Naji Marshall has been the best defensively of the lineups that have played at least 50 minutes together, with a 106 defensive rating.
The Pelicans most-used lineup of Williamson, Ingram, Ball, Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe has a defensive rating of 115.9 to get an idea of the disparity.
I don’t think there is any question that the New Orleans Pelicans are a better team with Brandon Ingram in the lineup but they are hoping that the defensive improvement can offset his absence on the offensive end until he comes back.