The New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram has scooped the 2019-20 NBA Most Improved Player award beating Bam Adebayo and Luka Doncic to it, the league announced on Monday.
Ingram averaged career-highs in points (23.8), rebounds (6.1), and assists (4.2) per game as the primary scorer for his new team in his first season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
More importantly, he jumped all the way to 39.1 per cent on 6.2 attempts per game with the Pelicans despite shooting only 32.9 per cent on two 3-point attempts per game in his first three seasons as a Laker. While Ingram showed flashes of stardom in his final season in Los Angeles, his fit with LeBron James was never all that comfortable due to his off-ball limitations.
But playing alongside rookie sensation Zion Williamson as well as former Laker teammate Lonzo Ball proved to have given him enough room for improvement as a shooter. The three will only work as a trio with proper spacing.
Ingram’s strides in his first season with the Pelicans should make them very optimistic about their future. A future was very much in doubt just a year ago.
Ingram was sidelined due to a blood clot in his shoulder as his 2018-19 season ended abruptly, and with players like Chris Bosh and Mirza Teletovic having lost their careers to clotting issues, Ingram’s problem appeared to be based on a structural issue with his shoulder rather than an underlying medical condition.
He made it through the 2019-20 campaign without incident. And now, he’s set to be rewarded for that.
The Pelicans fears over his blood clot incident made them not sign a contract extension during the 2019 offseason at least in part with Ingram. But Ingram was not only healthy, but he also thrived on the court in making his first All-Star Team and winning this award.
He is now set to enter restricted free agency as perhaps the best available talent aside from Anthony Davis, the star he was traded for the last offseason.
For all its worth, that will only result in a max contract for Ingram from the Pelicans, who can match any offer he gets from another team. Ingram’s future prospects were a mystery before the season began. He silenced any doubters with his play as a Pelican. He proved to be everything New Orleans could have hoped for and more this season, and this award was well-earned.