Brandon Ingram: Learn from the FIBA Basketball World Cup
It’s no secret that Brandon Ingram struggled during the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. And while some people are placing too much blame on Ingram, it did teach us all an important lesson. To fare better alongside other high-level players, Ingram is going to need to work on the speed of his decision-making.
When you’re playing off the ball (as you will sometimes do when playing next to other great on-ball players), you want to make quick decisions with the ball to avoid disrupting the offense’s flow. Hopefully, this year, Ingram will have more chances to work on this skill playing alongside a healthy Williamson.
Jonas Valanciunas: Returning to his rim protection roots.
Let’s face it: Jonas Valanciunas never has been and never will be an elite rim protector. However, he has been a better rim protector (particularly, during his Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors days) than he was last season.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Valanciunas ranked in the 89th percentile or higher in opponent on/off rim frequency (a statistic that serves as a strong indicator of rim deterrence) every year from 2016 to 2022. Last season, he fell to the 57th percentile. On top of that, his block rate was in just the 39th percentile in block rate (a far cry from where it was during the years we cited earlier).
The Pelicans were one of the worst rim-protecting teams in the league last year (last in opponent rim accuracy). And since they didn’t upgrade the center position, they are going to need Valanciunas to step up.