Brandon Ingram had perfect timing: If you’re going to win the Most Improved Player award, do it the year you’re up to get paid.
Ingram is expected to get a max contract extension this summer, and to cement that he was named the Most Improved Player award, the league just announced.
Ingram got 42 first-place votes out of the 100 select media members who voted, which just beat out Miami’s Bam Adebayo who finished second and had 38 first-place votes. Dallas’ Luka Doncic finished third (12 first-place votes), followed by Boston’s Jayson Tatum and then the Hornets’ Devonte’ Graham. Voting for the award looked at games through March 11; it did not include any play in the Orlando restart bubble.
Ingram averaged 24.3 points (New Orleans’ leading scorer), 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists for the Pelicans this season and was named an All-Star, but what one him the award was the all-around leap in his game. His three-point shooting jumped from 33% a year ago to 39.1% this season. Ingram’s understanding of the game and passing improved, and he assisted on 19.3% of teammates’ shots when he was on the court. All of that while taking on more of the offensive load in New Orleans (especially before Zion Williamson got healthy).
Ingram is in impressive company winning the Most Improved Player award. Here are the last five winners: Jimmy Butler, CJ McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo, and last year Pascal Siakam (who had a case to win it again this season and finished seventh in the voting).
All of those guys have gotten paid. Seriously paid. That’s about to happen to Ingram, too, and no team is poaching him out of New Orleans.