Brandon Ingram has quickly taken over as the first scoring option and the team leader for the Pelicans, writes Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. That status was emphasized this week when Ingram was selected as a reserve for the All-Star Game, becoming the team’s only representative.
Ingram’s stardom didn’t appear to be a sure thing when he was acquired from the Lakers as part of the Anthony Davis trade. He was dealing with a blood clot condition and a shaky shooting history that raised questions on whether he would ever reach his full potential.
“He was always tough to guard,” Jrue Holiday said. “He could always score. Here, I feel like when we really started getting to play with him in the beginning, it was obvious he can do everything.”
Holiday deserves much of the credit for allowing Ingram to seize the spotlight, Kushner adds. Coming into the season, the veteran guard was expected to fill the leadership role, with executive vice president David Griffin calling him the team’s “best player” and a dark horse MVP candidate at media day.
There’s more from New Orleans:
- It wasn’t long ago that Ingram feared he might have to stop playing because of health concerns, notes William Guillory of The Athletic. The blood clot issue forced him to miss the final 19 games of last season and sometimes left him unable to work out. Doctors assured Ingram that it wouldn’t be a recurring issue, but he feared his career might be cut short. “I came a long way mentally, physically and emotionally. Just continuing to pursue what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I had good help from my teammates, my coaches, from everybody around the organization putting me in this position.”
- Griffin is relying on his experience with LeBron James as he helps mold Zion Williamson, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Griffin and James were together for three seasons in Cleveland, reaching the NBA Finals each time. “The blessing of having been with LeBron is I learned a lot of what I did wrong,” Griffin said. “Like the time away, I learned a lot of the mistakes we made. And we made a lot of them. And LeBron was so good, he made us win anyway. So it would be a high-class problem that this kid (Williamson) turns out so good that we can make as many mistakes as we did for LeBron and still win.”
- Jaxson Hayes has apologized for his social media reaction after learning he wasn’t selected for the Rising Stars Challenge, according to Scott Gleeson and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Hayes posted the apology on Instagram, saying he used “extremely poor judgement and inexcusable language.”