Even before he set foot in the NBA in 2016, New Orleans Pelicans small forward Brandon Ingram was drawing comparisons to two-time champion Kevin Durant. It wasn't surprising, as the similarities with Ingram and Durant's physiques and athleticism are very noticeable. Unfortunately, in his first three years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Ingram failed to live up to expectations of being the "KD 2.0."
Luckily, Ingram managed to turn things around after being given the opportunity to start a new journey in New Orleans. In his first seven games as a Pelican, the 22-year-old small forward has been posting incredible numbers, averaging 25.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and one block, while shooting 55.2 percent from the field, and 48.6 percent from beyond the arc.
With the huge improvement in his performance on both ends of the floor, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports believes that Ingram is finally starting to fulfill his "long-armed potential" as the next Durant.
"A career-high 40-point night Monday against the Brooklyn Nets — Durant's new team — might be proof that Ingram is on stardom's doorstep and not the tantalizing but frustrating prospect he was with the Los Angeles Lakers. The vision, the control with which the New Orleans Pelicans' top scorer gets to his spots on the floor — even if he takes up plenty of space sometimes, an aspect that will certainly be addressed when Zion Williamson debuts — and the hint of an edge that flares up every now and again will make Ingram an intriguing restricted free agent in July."After years filled with drama and frustration, Ingram is now indeed playing like a No. 2 overall pick. Ingram is already making his presence felt and he is even getting the attention of the man he considers his favorite NBA player: Kevin Durant. Ingram is aware that he is still far from reaching the level of Durant, but he believes that there is one aspect where he is currently better than the Brooklyn Nets superstar: passing.
Compared to his final season with the Lakers where he was sharing the court with LeBron James, Ingram admitted that playing for a rebuilding team like the Pelicans allows him to play at his own pace. However, aside from scoring, Ingram said that he also loves passing, adding that he's "obsessed with making the right play" for his teammates.
Ingram's performance this season will be vital, as it could determine his value when he becomes a free agent next summer. With his current performance, it would not a surprise if Ingram receives plenty of interest in the 2020 free agency. However, since he is a restricted free agent, the only thing that the Pelicans need to do to bring him back is to match the offers from other teams.