Brandon Ingram inspired the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns. It may be just one game, but Ingram's performance sent a message to the world: He's still here, and he wants your respect.
Brandon Ingram has arrived
When the L.A. Lakers drafted 2nd overall in 2016, the front office and fans thought they had a mini Kevin Durant. Tall, long-limbed, and with a decent shooting stroke, many expected Ingram to become a superstar in the league, but other things happened. The roster got a shakeup after LeBron James joined the Lakers. Despite steadily increasing his point output each year he was with the Lakers, Ingram found himself shipped out of the team.
In his third year with the New Orleans Pelicans, Ingram continues to show he still has an upside. At just 24 years old, he's considered one of the vital pieces of the Pelicans alongside Zion Williamson. New Orleans wasn't supposed to be in the playoffs, but they just evened their series against the 64-18 Phoenix Suns, thanks to an almost triple-double effort from Brandon: 37 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.
If Ingram continues his fine play, he has a chance to flip the narrative about him. He's been on an All-Star team once, the year after he got traded, but he has to do more to be considered an elite talent or a star in the league. If the Pelicans beat the Suns in the first round, it would announce Ingram's arrival to the league. His reputation could change from a star to a superstar. New Orleans has a better chance now that Devin Booker's hamstring injury could mean he would sit out some games. This is the perfect chance for Ingram and the Pelicans to capitalize on the situation and gain the upper hand in the series.
Did the Lakers trade the wrong guy?
With the way some of the players the Lakers traded away have performed lately, the fans wonder if the team traded away the wrong players. Aside from Kyle Kuzma and the Washington Wizards, (injured) Lonzo Ball and the Chicago Bulls, Ingram and the Pelicans, D'Angelo Russell and the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Jordan Clarkson and the Utah Jazz all reached the postseason.
Is Ingram a better running partner for LeBron James in L.A.? At that time, Ingram's 3-point shooting still needed improvement, and his rebounding and overall defense as well. The Pelicans star still has to improve on those categories now. But the good thing is, he's shown the willingness to work hard and push his game to the next level. His assists numbers improved from 2.1 during his rookie year to 5.6 this season.
Former Golden State Warrior center Festus Ezeli wondered what would have happened if the Lakers let Ingram stay.
"I know Lakers won a bubble chip but every time I see Brandon Ingram hoop I can't help but think how much of a mistake it was to trade him."
There's still a lot left to play in the Suns and Pelicans series. Some say it's not a series until the other team wins on the opponent's court. Fans expected it would be a sweep, but Ingram had other things in mind. Now that it's tied, it's up for Ingram and the Pelicans to prove they are not here to make the playoffs, but they have a chance to prove they could compete and win the series.