• As we discussed last week, one of the biggest storylines for the Pelicans this year has been Brandon Ingram’s continued development.

    It was no secret that the Pelicans were going to have a tough early schedule, but the smattering of injuries and the new defensive scheme have proven too much for them to approach a reasonable record.  Standing at 1-6, the Pelicans face a steep uphill climb in order to make the playoffs.  Although it is not impossible, it seems highly improbable.

    And what that means is that the focus should, and probably will, focus onto developing the younger pieces.

    Of the healthy young pieces, no one stands out more than Brandon Ingram, but what is most exciting about Ingram so far isn’t the points: it’s his ability to find his teammates. Rather than explain all his reads verbally, it’s best to show that playmaking through video.

    Play 1: Simple catch and crisp chest pass to Frank Jackson for a corner 3

     

    This is not the most impressive pass, as Ingram simply runs the floor in transition and catches a high and hot pass from Nickeil Alexander-Walker on the move.  It’s a simple read-and-react play.  Ingram’s decision is basically made before he hits the floor.  The accuracy and the speed of the pass, however, are on point, as is Frank Jackson’s footwork to settle backwards into the corner for the spot-up 3. Good? Yes. Earth-shattering? No.

    Play 2: Dribble Handoff with Jahlil Okafor

     

    This is where things get a little bit more exciting. Ingram has a slinky handle that he uses to get to his scoring spots, but developing a pick & roll game where he can actually initiate the offense in a way where his teammates benefit is more exciting. On this play, Jahlil Okafor hands the ball off to Ingram. Russell Westbrook is a bit late on defense and falls behind Ingram, who keeps him on his hip in order to remove him from the play and stutter dribbles in order to set up what is effectively a 2-on-1. As he approaches the basket, several Rockets are faced with decisions, most notably, Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers.

    — Chandler: Ingram is heading to the basket with momentum and can get an easy layup at the front of the rim if he chooses to stay with Jah.  If he goes to contest the shot (which he does), he leaves Jah open for a wide open dunk (kudos to Jah for keeping an appropriate distance from Ingram in order to ensure Chandler cannot defend both of them at once).

    — Austin Rivers has sucked in to help on the pick and roll action but makes what is probably the correct choice not to leave Redick alone in the corner.

    — McLemore stunts one pass away pretty ineffectively, as he neither bothers Ingram on the dribble nor has any real idea of where his assignment (Lonzo Ball) is on the perimeter.

    This play showcases several of Ingram’s skills: the quickness he has to get into the paint, the craft to put Westbrook “in jail,” and the timing to get Chandler to commit to contesting his shot.  As soon as Chandler commits, Ingram fires an on-point pass to Okafor for the dunk.

    Play 3: Recognition to Feed Favors via Entry Pass

     

    The Rockets switch a lot on defense, and Ingram makes them pay here. PJ Tucker is defending Ingram on the ball, with Clint Capela defending Derrick Favors. Redick occupies the short corner, Ball moves to the opposite corner, and Hart lifts on the perimeter to the center of the court. Favors sets a pick and, at the same time, turns to seal for inside position on PJ Tucker. Ingram strings out his dribble a little longer and floats an area pass to Favors, but no other Rockets go to the pass and Favors is awarded an easy layup after he throws his body into Tucker.

    Play 4: Ingram vs. Entire Rockets Team

     

    On this play, Ingram is somehow defended by 3 rockets as he moves into the mid-post, as he has a height advantage against Westbrook. Kenrich Williams spaces away from his teammate in order to force Tucker into a decision — either double Ingram or leave Williams. Redick swings along the opposite baseline in order to occupy the opposite corner. Lonzo Ball and Hart separate after a momentary cluster and Hart receives the pass near the break for an easy spot up.

    Ingram’s height allows him to make this pass, and it is what makes swingmen who can pass particularly dangerous. Ingram has the wingspan of a big but the skillset of a wing, so he can throw over the top of the defense to the opposite side of the floor. This puts defenses in a tough position, as if the Pelicans have shooters located on the opposite side of the floor, a pass with the requisite mustard/location will require a closeout that not many players can make. It’s a lot of ground to cover in a very small amount of time.

    Conclusion

    None of these plays show elite-level playmaking. What they do show is that Ingram is figuring out his teammates and also figuring out how to respond to different playmaking opportunities.

    Passing and scoring are complementary skill sets for multiple players, but they are also for the individual player: a guy who can beat you by himself or by creating easy opportunities for his teammates is a much harder player to guard than a one-dimensional player. This is absolutely the area to watch with Ingram this year, who has several other clips of him slinging one-handed lasers to corner shooters.

    This guy is good, and his development this season is probably the second biggest storyline outside of Zion’s.

Fantasy News

  • Patrick Beverley
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverly had a monstrous stat line against the Celtics in a 107-104 overtime win on Wednesday, ending the night with 14 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers.

    It's really hard to ask for a better game than this. Beverly was a machine in this one and had easily his best game of the year. Unfortunately, this performance was more of an outlier than the norm. It's tough to count on him for consistent value in standard leagues, but could have merit in deeper leagues. This was the Clippers' first game with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so it's possible this dynamic creates more chances for Beverly, but we'll have to wait and see.

  • Paul George
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Paul George racked up 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting in Wednesday night's contest against the Celtics, in addition to five rebounds, eight assists, a block and four 3-pointers.

    George had another solid outing and shows that he can contribute across the board. Although he has only suited up four times this year, he is a top-10 player on a per-game basis along with his teammate, Kawhi Leonard. He should have the opportunity for some huge games when Kawhi takes his days off.

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Kawhi Leonard did a little bit of everything in his return on Wednesday night, putting up a line of 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers.

    Simply put, Leonard can ball. It's just a matter of how often. Fantasy players drafted him for nights like this, but have to live with the fact that he'll be missing games every now-and-then. That being said, on a per-game basis, he is still a top-10 player this year and someone you can count on to end the season around that mark.

  • Montrezl Harrell
    PF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Montrezl Harrell logged 31 minutes off the bench on Wednesday, and turned it into six points, six rebounds, three dimes, two steals and two blocks.

    It was a quiet night on offense for Harrell as most of the Clippers' shots came from their guards and wings. However, he was still able to contribute a couple steals and blocks tonight. Even after the low offensive output, Harrell is sitting inside top-80 value on the season. Ivica Zubac and Maurice Harkless also had quiet nights with five and three points respectively.

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Lauri Markkanen woke up with a team-high 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting with six boards, three treys, one steal and two blocks in a 109-89 win over the Pistons on Wednesday.

    Markkanen has not delivered anything close to his mid-round ADP so far this season, mostly the result of his .362 shooting from the field. He could warm up soon and his buy-low window would slam shut. Act accordingly.

  • Lou Williams
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Lou Williams took over for the Clippers on Wednesday night, ending the contest with 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and three 3-pointers but also seven turnovers.

    In a night where all eyes were supposed to be focused on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court for the first time, Lou Williams stole the show. He led the team in both points and field goal attempts. Williams has had a great stretch of games and has played at a top-50 value recently. However, his season marks are more realistic and have him just inside the top-100.

  • Wendell Carter Jr.
    C, Chicago Bulls

    Wendell Carter Jr. played well in a tough matchup against Andre Drummond, posting 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting with 15 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 33 minutes.

    WCJ is a top-120 value on the season, but has the tools to pull that needle closer to top-75 before the 2019-20 dust settles. Consider floating a buy-low offer right now.

  • Shaquille Harrison
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Shaquille Harrison drew the start for an injured Otto Porter (righ foot bone bruise) and thrived with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, one trey and one block in 26 minutes on Wednesday.

    Porter is out for at least a couple more weeks. Harrison has outplayed Chandler Hutchison with this spot start, making him a speculative add in case Harrison sticks with starting five.

  • Jayson Tatum
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Jayson Tatum balled out on Wednesday, dropping a season-high 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting, and adding, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and five 3-pointers.

    This was one of Tatum's best lines of the season. He has strung together a couple of solid outings with Gordon Hayward out. Tatum is currently a top-40 player and should settle somewhere around there as the season progresses.

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker had a rough night on Wednesday, scoring 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting, with only two assists and six turnovers, but somehow managed nine rebounds.

    Kemba's night was salvaged with his nine rebounds, but other than that it was one he'd like to forget. It was his season-high in turnovers and tied his season-low in assists. He is still a top-20 guy and he'll move past this. It just wasn't a great game, simple as that.