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Brandon Ingram breakout season could be product of 3-point shooting

Pelicans F among top 10 scorers in the NBA thanks to increased volume of outside shots.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram shoots over Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Ingram has been arguably the most improved player in the NBA this season and is on his way (hopefully) to his first All-Star game. Ingram was acquired as the key piece in the Anthony Davis trade between the Pelicans and Lakers this past offseason. I imagine the Lakers are knocking themselves for not trying to keep Ingram. After averaging 18.3 points per game for L.A. last season with LeBron James out most of the season, Ingram is now a top 10 scorer. He’s posting 25.5 points per game, ahead of a few notable names, you may have heard of them. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.

Now, a lot of people will point to Ingram’s increased role with New Orleans and the fact Zion Williamson has been sidelined most of the season as a big reason why Ingram is having a breakout. But Pelicans beat reporter Will Guillory pointed out one statistical point: Ingram’s 3-point shooting.

Right now, Ingram enters Friday night vs. the Nuggets shooting 39.4% from downtown, hitting 2.5 3s on 6.3 attempts per game. His effective FG% is at a career high 53.8% despite his FG% overall being down from last season. His 3-PT attempt rate is at 33.7% — in the two previous seasons it didn’t go higher than 13.8%. Ingram is finally getting put in situations where he’s matched up against smaller or less athletic defenders and it’s paying off due to his length and size. Honestly, Ingram is looking and playing a lot like a young Kevin Durant. KD commented on the comparison a few years back, actually.

Will Zion Williamson’s return negatively impact Brandon Ingram?

I think the short answer is no, not really. If anything Zion is another big who can space the floor and will require a lot of attention once he’s up to full speed. Sure, Ingram won’t get as many looks or touches, but I imagine the ones that he still gets will be very high quality attempts. So maybe his usage goes down a bit, but likely not enough to hinder his performance. Remember, Zion won’t play back-to-backs and he’ll be on a hard minutes limit. I don’t think its a scenario in which we should sell high on Ingram in season-long. Hold onto him, especially in keeper formats.