Brandon Ingram‘s defense has been a focal point for fans of the New Orleans Pelicans the last two seasons and for good reason.
Ingram had his worst season as a defender last season according to most advanced statistics and he still hasn’t contributed to a winning team in his young career.
Ingram is an elite offensive player, but if he is ever going to be a superstar in the league, he has to be more on the defensive end.
If you look at the best wings in the league, guys like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they got there by being two-way players, not just guys who can score a lot.
So what can Brandon Ingram do to improve his defense? There is no simple answer but there are a couple of tangible things that he and coach Willie Green can do.
New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Ingram needs to get stronger
Ingram has always been skinny, it’s just how he’s built and he’s never going to be a guy carrying a lot of muscle. But you could say the same thing about young Kawhi or even Kevin Durant, who is still skinny but has gotten a lot stronger since he came into the league.
Durant used to get pushed around in the paint but has evolved into a very good defender over the years. Ingram also gets pushed around, in fact, he let up more points in the paint than any Pelican last season, which is crazy considering he was mostly defending small forwards.
Offensive players walk right through Ingram, which doesn’t give him much of a chance to use his athleticism or length to his advantage. Ingram needs to get in the weight room so that he can better stand his ground against forwards in the paint.
Use that length!
Brandon Ingram has an insane wingspan that should give him an advantage when it comes to getting blocks, steals and deflections but so far it has not translated on the court.
Ingram has never even averaged one block per game, and only hit that mark in steals once in his career.
He could be helped by a change in role, as Ingram seems to be better at smothering smaller players with his long arms than he is at trying to prevent bigger ones from pushing him around.
With Naji Marshall on board for the whole season, we could see Ingram defend shooting guards more often, which I think would be the best way to take advantage of his wingspan, as he can at least alter shots and should be able to get deflections when guarding shorter guys.
Whether it is a change in role or in physique, Brandon Ingram must improve defensively if the New Orleans Pelicans are going to make the playoffs, as you can’t have your second-best player being a sieve on defense.