David Griffin: 'Pelicans Have Every Intention' to Keep Brandon Ingram Long-Term

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives to the basket in the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on November 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Brandon Ingram is in the long-term plans of the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to Marc J. Spears, Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin told The Undefeated that the "Pelicans have every intention of keeping him long-term." The 22-year-old is a restricted free agent next summer.

The fourth-year pro out of Duke is having his best season, averaging 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 42.4 percent on three-pointers in 14 contests.

There is some noise to the numbers, however. Ingram's usage rate is 29.5 percent, ranking 22nd in the NBA. Among players who have appeared in at least 10 games, Ingram ranks 15th. 

That number will surely shrink once Zion Williamson is healthy. And other injuries—Lonzo Ball has missed seven games and Derrick Favors has missed nine—have perhaps contributed to the Pelicans leaning so heavily on Ingram.

It will be fascinating to see what his usage will look like once the team is healthier and whether he'll remain an efficient scorer with fewer opportunities.

The Pelicans have also been better when Ingram sits. When the 6'7", 190-pound forward is on the court, the team has a net rating of minus-6.5. When he sits, that drops to minus-1.1. A major reason comes on the defensive side of the ball, with the Pelicans holding a defensive rating of 115.8 when he plays and a more reasonable 109.5 when he sits.

His 0.01 defensive win shares ranks 395th in the NBA.

Granted, players who can create their own offense and score at Ingram's current rate are highly valuable. But some of that production has been paired with deficiencies on the other end of the court. 

Still, it would be a surprise if the Pelicans didn't attempt to keep him long-term. The young core of Williamson, Ingram, Ball, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Walker-Alexander—paired with veterans like Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick and Favors—is intriguing. 

Head coach Alvin Gentry is certainly excited by the group, as he told Spears, even if the Pelicans have opened the season with a disappointing 6-12 record:

"We got some good young players. We got some players that are middle-aged. We have a lot of draft choices we are going to have. We are in a situation where we are going to be able to build a team, as Griff has said, that has sustainable winning. To me, that is the most important thing is to be able to win consistently.

"You can't talk about winning championships until you are in a situation where you can win consistently. And then you want to take the next step and then the next step and then the next step. It doesn't happen overnight."

It would appear that Ingram is a part of the next step.