The New Orleans Pelicans lost to Phoenix Friday night but Brandon Ingram still had a great game.
The former Blue Devil finished with 34 points on 11-19 from the floor, pulled down seven rebounds, had two assists and a block.
The game was tight in the fourth quarter and that’s when former Wake Forest star Chris Paul went off.
Paul had 19 in the fourth, which would be amazing for any player but is even more so for a 6-0 point guard who is now 36.
It’s one thing for LeBron James to play at a high level at the same age but he’s 6-9 and 250. He’s got more options than a smallish guard.
But what about Ingram?
He’s such a unique player. You see guys like him at times, at least in terms of their build. Think Reggie Lewis, Tayshawn Prince, George Gervin. They’re all rail thin, like Ingram, but who has his package of skills? Those guys were basically shooters, and all of them were better at it than Ingram.
Really, it’s a weakness in his game, which is kind of wild given how thin he is.
But he’s really improved his passing, his defense and his decision-making. If he gets his shooting up - his best year was in 2018-19 with the Lakers when he hit 49 percent overall and the year before he hit 39 percent on threes - he’s going to be impossible.
That may take a while. With Zion Williamson out for the season, Ingram has improved dramatically, which is kind of amazing for a couple of reasons. First, it’s unusual for guys to make big improvements later in their career and it may be unheard of for someone to do it when his team is missing an enormous talent.
New Orleans is probably not going to go far this year but with this version of Ingram, CJ McCollum and Williamson, they’ve really got something to work with.
Which brings us to someone else.
We sincerely didn’t think Jose Alvarado would stick in the NBA but he has. And he’s carved out a role with the Pelicans that is really impressive. You can see the respect his teammates have for him and it’s because of how hard he works. He didn’t go to Duke, but that doesn’t mean that Duke fans can’t be proud of him too. We respect the hell out of that guy.