NEW YORK – New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is in a much better place today than he was when he first came into the NBA. When Ingram came into the league as a 6-foot-9 wunderkind athlete from Duke, he was already being, fair or unfair, compared to Brooklyn Nets star and two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant. That’s a lot of weight to carry.
Adding to that pressure, Ingram, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft with the second pick, had the responsibility of trying to put a whole franchise on his wiry shoulders after Kobe Bryant had completed his Hall of Fame 20-year run with the team. If that wasn’t enough stress to worry about, Ingram was assigned to the locker stall where Bryant used to occupy.
“I did see where my locker was, and I definitely knew it was Kobe’s locker. (Former Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) told me I had some big shoes to fill when I came in here, but I liked it,” Ingram said in his first press conference as a Laker. “I like the pressure that’s on me right now. Of course, it’s going to motivate me to do good things on the court. It’s all good pressure. I take it as motivation for me to do the right thing on the court and off the court.”
Those words didn’t really take hold until Ingram was traded to the Pelicans after spending three promising but unfilled seasons with the Lakers. During his rookie season, Ingram averaged 9.4 points a game. In his lone season with the Pelicans, Ingram showed that he was motivated enough to play up to his potential, scoring 23.8 points and averaging 6.1 rebounds per game in his best season as a pro.
As a result of that growth, the NBA recognized Ingram for all of that hard work, awarding him the 2019-20 Kia NBA Most Improved Player award.
A first-time NBA All-Star selection in his fourth season, the 22-year-old Ingram becomes the first player to win the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award with New Orleans. The annual award is designed to honor an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.
Ingram received 42 first-place votes from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters and earned 326 total points. He edged Miami Heat center-forward Bam Adebayo, who finished in second place with 295 points (38 first-place votes). Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Don?i? finished in third place with 101 points (12 first-place votes).
Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11. The seeding games, which were played July 30 – Aug. 14 as part of the season restart, did not count toward voting for the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.
From the beginning of the season through March 11, Ingram averaged 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steal in 34.3 minutes in 56 games. He was one of seven players to average at least 24.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.0 steal, joining fellow 2020 NBA All-Stars Don?i?, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers.
Ingram made 137 three-pointers in games played through March 11, which is more than he recorded in his first three seasons combined (127). He improved significantly at the free-throw line, raising his accuracy to 85.8 percent this season (through March 11) from 66.2 percent across his first three seasons.
Through March 11 this season, Ingram ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring average and posted the first two games of at least 40 points in his career, highlighted by a 49-point performance against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 16. He scored at least 30 points 11 times after totaling four 30-point games across his first three seasons. One of those 30-point efforts this season came during Week 10 (Dec. 23-29, 2019), when he was named the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week for the first time in his career.
Ingram, who turns 23 on Sept. 2, was selected as a reserve for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in his first season with New Orleans. The Pelicans acquired him on July 6, 2019, from the Lakers as part of a three-team trade that also included the Washington Wizards. Ingram, who was selected by Los Angeles with the No. 2 overall pick in NBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm, averaged 18.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.54 steals in 33.8 minutes in 52 games with the Lakers last season.
The voting results for the 2019-20 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award are below. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.
|VOTING RESULTS: 2019-20 KIA NBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD|
|Player (Team)||1st Place Votes (5 Points)||2nd Place Votes (3 Points)||3rd Place Votes (1 Point)||Total Points|
|Brandon Ingram (New Orleans)||42||35||11||326|
|Bam Adebayo (Miami)||38||30||15||295|
|Luka Don?i? (Dallas)||12||10||11||101|
|Jayson Tatum (Boston)||3||7||21||57|
|Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte)||2||9||13||50|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City)||0||5||6||21|
|Pascal Siakam (Toronto)||1||1||5||13|
|Christian Wood (Detroit)||1||0||6||11|
|Trae Young (Atlanta)||0||2||4||10|
|Fred VanVleet (Toronto)||1||0||1||6|
|Davis Bertans (Washington)||0||1||0||3|
|Jaylen Brown (Boston)||0||0||3||3|
|Markelle Fultz (Orlando)||0||0||2||2|
|Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn)||0||0||1||1|
|Duncan Robinson (Miami)||0||0||1||1|
Below is the all-time list of recipients of the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award.
|KIA NBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD RECIPIENTS|
1985-86 – Alvin Robertson, San Antonio
1986-87 – Dale Ellis, Seattle
1987-88 – Kevin Duckworth, Portland
1988-89 – Kevin Johnson, Phoenix
1989-90 – Rony Seikaly, Miami
1990-91 – Scott Skiles, Orlando
1991-92 – Pervis Ellison, Washington
1992-93 – Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Denver
1993-94 – Don MacLean, Washington
1994-95 – Dana Barros, Philadelphia
1995-96 – Gheorghe Muresan, Washington
1996-97 – Isaac Austin, Miami
1997-98 – Alan Henderson, Atlanta
1998-99 – Darrell Armstrong, Orlando
2000-01 – Tracy McGrady, Orlando
2001-02 – Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana
2002-03 – Gilbert Arenas, Golden State
2003-04 – Zach Randolph, Portland
2004-05 – Bobby Simmons, LA Clippers
2005-06 – Boris Diaw, Phoenix
2006-07 – Monta Ellis, Golden State
2007-08 – Hedo Türko?lu, Orlando
2008-09 – Danny Granger, Indiana
2009-10 – Aaron Brooks, Houston
2010-11 – Kevin Love, Minnesota
2011-12 – Ryan Anderson, Orlando
2012-13 – Paul George, Indiana
2013-14 – Goran Dragi?, Phoenix
2014-15 – Jimmy Butler, Chicago
2015-16 – CJ McCollum, Portland
2016-17 – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
2017-18 – Victor Oladipo, Indiana
2018-19 – Pascal Siakam, Toronto
2019-20 – Brandon Ingram, New Orleans
About Kia Motors America
Headquartered in Irvine, California, Kia Motors America continues to top quality surveys and is recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands. Kia serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and offers a complete range of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 800 dealers in the U.S., including cars and SUVs proudly assembled in West Point, Georgia.
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