No one expected the New Orleans Pelicans to be talking about the NBA draft in middle December. The most difficult schedule in the NBA, a mind-boggling collection of injuries, adjustment to a new system, and simply bad basketball combined to put the Pelicans at 5-16. That's the third worst record in the league. Here we are, welcome to the misery and have a seat.
Naturally it is time to start visiting Tankathon on a nightly basis. College basketball suddenly becomes a scheduled event. Drooling over Ben Simmons in Baton Rouge is expected. If New Orleans finishes with the third worst record they would only have a 15.6% chance at the first overall pick and a great chance (53%) at selecting fourth or worse than landing in the top three. Simmons would be an amazing second star beside Anthony Davis, but the rest of the draft provides more questions than answers.
Chad Ford's Mock Draft 2.0 has the Pelicans selecting Duke small forward Brandon Ingram. While the entire article is on Insider let's take a look at the blurb he wrote about Ingram landing in the Crescent City.
I don't think anyone predicted the Pelicans would get off to such a terrible start. I thought they were a lock for the sixth or seventh seed in the West. But their slow start could be a blessing in disguise in the long run. New Orleans need another elite prospect to pair on the floor with Anthony Davis and landing this high in the lottery could fulfill that need.
Obviously Simmons, who is spending his freshman year at LSU, would be a godsend. But if the Pelicans land here, they'll have a tough decision to make between Ingram and Dragan Bender. Ingram's ability to shoot the ball should put him slightly ahead of Bender. He's long, athletic and has myriad tools for a kid his size. He needs to get stronger -- way stronger -- but he's got a real chance to be a star.
It's always a good idea to check Draft Express on their thoughts and data about a prospect. Ingram is a long 6'9.5" with an incredible 7'3" wingspan. He also weighs in at under 200 pounds, although he just turned 18 in September so he should be expected to put on some bulk. This video breakdowns are incredible and I cannot recommend them enough.
Against top flight competition in the month of November Ingram struggled mightily, shooting just 5-20 from the field and 7-15 from the foul line against Kentucky, VCU, and Georgetown combined. In his last two games, against Indiana and Buffalo, Ingram has turned the corner shooting 60% from the field (18-30) and behind the arc (6-10) while scoring 47 points with 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. It could be a matter of adjusting to the level of competition or that the three bad games were played away from Cameron Indoor Stadium and Ingram is just 18 years old.
Count me as an Ingram skeptic. His frail frame concerns me. Any time I read a statement like "He has a lot of work to do on his body and can improve his overall effort level but there's a lot to like about Ingram, and he showed why on Saturday," it sends up massive red flags. Physical maturity is something that is reasonably expected to improve with age. Effort? I'm not so sure. Considering the issues the Pelicans already have on the effort front adding another player with a hot and cold motor is unwise.