Pelicans striker Brandon Ingram was named the NBA’s most improved player in a season that saw him recover from a life-altering blood clot and a team swap that enlisted him to second overall in 2016 .
Ingram, who arrived in New Orleans as part of a block-buster exchange that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, averaged 23.8 points per game and best in career while hitting 46.3%. of his shots. He also became an NBA All-Star for the first time.
“It dates back to last March, I got injured and wasn’t able to return to the pitch until September,” Ingram said in a Zoom call Monday with TNT after being informed that he had won the award from his parents. “It’s very little time to start the preseason and start the regular season, but I was ready for it. From day one … I just wanted to dedicate myself to my work every single day and get the best out of it. “
Ingram credited former Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry for his success, saying the coach who was fired on August 15 “gave me a great opportunity for me to go out there and do what I wanted to do”.
Ingram received 42 number one votes from a global panel of 100 sports journalists and broadcasters and earned 326 total points. He beat Miami Heat center forward Bam Adebayo, who finished in second place with 295 points (38 votes in first place). Luka Doncic, guard of the Dallas Mavericks, finished third with 101 points (12 votes in first place).
Ingram talked about his season earlier this month, when he was just a finalist for the award.
“It’s been a great year for me,” Ingram said. “People are seeing my work that I’ve entered, and it’s definitely shown on the basketball court.”
The former Duke champion, who turns 23 on Wednesday, has become a more dynamic scorer by significantly improving both his 3 points and free throws.
Ingram scored a career best 39.1% from 3 points, up from 33% from deep during his last season with the Lakers.
“Firstly, I was the one who figured out the mechanics and the right way to shoot basketball … shoot from my legs and stuff instead of my arms, just consistency and how to shoot,” Ingram said. “Then it was the amount of attempts I made, having the confidence to take those shots and keep making those shots. I think this has helped me with my confidence and continuing to do them. “
Ingram’s free-throw rate has risen from 67.5% last season to 85.1% this season.
Meanwhile, he has remained largely healthy, playing and starting all 72 but 10 New Orleans games without experiencing a recurrence of deep vein thrombosis in his right arm which has sidelined him for his last 19 games with the Lakers.
The timing of his improved game – and the recognition that goes with it – comes at a fortuitous time for Ingram, who is a limited free agent this offseason. The Pelicans can choose to offer him a maximum contract of around $ 167 million for the next five seasons or to match any offer he accepts with another team.
David Griffin, the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, has not yet detailed his plans for Ingram, but has been highly complimenting him as both a player and a person.
For his part, Ingram has shown little interest in leaving New Orleans, where he has the opportunity to continue playing with another former Duke star, Zion Williamson, the # 1 draft pick in 2019.
“I’m having fun where I am,” Ingram said.