“They send double teams at me, but don’t vote me in.”
That was Brandon Ingram’s reaction when he found out he had been snubbed from the 2024 All-Star Game, despite putting together the best season of his career. The 26-year-old forward is averaging 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists per game for the New Orleans Pelicans, who have stunned the NBA world by surging to a 30-21 record in the crowded Western Conference.
After years of injury troubles for both Brandon Ingram and young superstar Zion Williamson, the Pelicans are finally healthy and appear poised to make some real noise in the playoffs. So why hasn’t Ingram’s crucial role in this turnaround been recognized with an All-Star selection?
He’s referring to Williamson and sharpshooting guard CJ McCollum, who round out a talented trio that perfectly complements each other. While their scoring numbers may be slightly down individually, that results from sharing the load and playing winning basketball.
But Brandon Ingram has a point about the lack of recognition and respect he receives, especially from opposing coaches who voted for the reserves. “That’s crazy because the coverages from the coaches, they all send double teams at me. Yet, they don’t vote me for All-Star,” he said with a laugh.
The Sting of Being Snubbed
Making the All-Star team is a huge accomplishment for any player, signaling their status among the league’s elite. For someone like Brandon Ingram who has put in the work year after year to reach this level, not having that recognition undoubtedly stings.
“I don’t plan on missing any more All-Stars. But there’s always motivation with not making that thing and continuing on,” Brandon Ingram told me.
After missing significant time due to injuries and COVID each of the past two seasons, Brandon Ingram changed his offseason regimen to focus on maintenance, recovery, and consistency. “It’s been the same. But I’m trying to go hard and I’m trying to be focused,” he explained. That work has clearly paid dividends with his availability and level of play this season.
The Pelicans’ Turnaround
Brandon Ingram is certainly not the only player who has stepped up for New Orleans this year. Williamson is finally healthy and has played 40 of 51 games, utilizing his unique physical gifts to dominate the paint while expanding his playmaking. McCollum arrived last season via trade and has provided crucial scoring punch and veteran leadership.
But Brandon Ingram versatility on both ends makes him an indispensable part of the league’s most surprising turnaround story. He can score from all three levels with seeming ease, create offense for himself or teammates, and lock down opposing wings using his 7’3 wingspan.
“When you hear stuff like that, it’s a confidence builder. It makes sense for us to fight for what we want,” Brandon Ingram told me regarding coach Willie Green calling him and Zion the NBA’s top duo. That confidence and alignment of priorities throughout the roster and staff has clearly empowered this team.
Brandon Ingram says a players-only meeting following a five-game losing streak earlier this season was a turning point. “We know what we want to do. We know what we want to get out of each game,” he explained. Since then, the Pelicans reeled off a nine-game win streak and have continued winning at a 60% clip.
Playoff Hopes Coming into Focus
Looking ahead, Brandon Ingram is focused on maintaining his new health regimen and continuing to improve his rhythm and cohesion playing alongside Zion and CJ. When asked if he believes this is his best NBA season so far, Ingram demurred.
If the Pelicans can secure home court for the playoffs and make a deep run, perhaps Brandon Ingram will view this as his best season yet. He’s determined to prove he’s not just an All-Star talent but someone who can lead a contending team when it matters most.
“There are a lot of good duos in the league. We have to work up to being as consistent as the other ones with Dallas, the Lakers, Milwaukee, the Celtics,” Brandon Ingram commented on him and Zion. Making noise in this year’s playoffs would go a long way toward elevating their status to that elite level of tandem.
The snub from All-Star recognition will no doubt serve as extra fuel for Brandon Ingram during the second half of the season. For a player who lives in the gym and is obsessively devoted to his craft, external validation means less than achieving team success.
Brandon Ingram may not be an All-Star this year, but he’s poised to show the league they made a mistake when he leads the New Orleans Pelicans on a deep playoff run over the coming months. Don’t be surprised if this is just the start of many All-Star appearances still to come in his promising career.