New Orleans Pelicans: How far behind Jayson Tatum is Brandon Ingram?

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) dribbles past Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) dribbles past Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics are two of the best under-25 players in the NBA.

Ingram was drafted second in 2016 and Tatum came a year later as the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Since then, they have put up similar numbers, though Tatum is widely considered the better all-around player.

Part of that is because he is winning, as Tatum has made the playoffs in all five of his seasons in the league, while B.I. has played in just one playoff series in his career.

Tatum has made three All-Star appearances and was on the 1st-team All-NBA this season, so Ingram has some catching up to do both in terms of team success as well as individual accolades.

Related Story. Is Shaedon Sharpe really going to fall to the Pelicans in the Draft?. light

So how can Ingram take the next step and get into Tatum’s tier?

New Orleans Pelicans: What Brandon Ingram needs to do to catch Jayson Tatum

Win more: It’s that simple. Tatum has already been deep into the playoffs, now including a trip to the NBA Finals. When the New Orleans Pelicans start winning consistently, Ingram will get more recognition. He might be the most underrated player in the NBA right now, but if the Pels make a deep playoff run, that will change.

Play more: Ingram played in just 55 games this season and has only topped 70 games once in his career. Jayson Tatum has been a relative Iron Man in comparison, playing 76 games this season and going over 70 three times out of five years.

Rebound more: Tatum averaged eight rebounds per game this season and has been over seven per game in the last three seasons. Ingram has averaged over six per game only once in his career, so this is an area he needs to improve if he wants to sniff All-NBA. Ingram has the size to do it, especially now that he has put on more muscle, so I expect his rebounding numbers will tick up over the next few seasons. He can benefit from all of the attention that Zion Williamson gets under the hoop to grab some offensive boards for put-backs. Ingram is also a good playmaker/finisher in transition, so grabbing more rebounds will also lead to more points and assists.

Defend more: I thought Ingram showed marked improvement on the defensive end this season, but if he wants to make All-NBA, he’ll have to find another level. Tatum had a 103.4 defensive rating this season while Ingram came in at 109.4, which is not great. Tatum also routinely takes on the tough defensive assignment and is often guarding the other team’s best player, while the New Orleans Pelicans have tried to shield Ingram from that responsibility. But the best players do, so if Ingram wants to be one of them, he is going to have to embrace that challenge and keep improving defensively.

Brandon Ingram is a star, but he still has work to do to get into the elite category of NBA forwards.

Next. Why would Zion Williamson want to leave the Pelicans?. dark