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Pelicans: Brandon Ingram is worth a max contract

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans swingman Brandon Ingram has blossomed into an All-Star in his first year in The Big Easy.

The former No. 2 overall pick was one of the centerpieces in the Anthony Davis trade last summer, and the Pelicans were banking on his upside with the hopes he would be a potential franchise player in New Orleans.

Ingram has not disappointed. He is averaging 24.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists through his first 47 games while shooting an even 40 percent from beyond the arc. He has been a steady playmaker for a Pelicans team that has–at times–looked downright porous on the offensive end, especially at the beginning of the season.

But decisions are looming as the Pelicans chase a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Ingram will be a restricted free agent this summer, and there is certainly a chance he receives a lucrative offer from an opposing team or two.

The Pelicans can either wait things out and see what Ingram’s market is like, or they can attempt to extend him outright before other teams have the opportunity to offer a contract.

Letting the market dictate Ingram’s worth might force the Pelicans to either match an exorbitant contract or risk losing him. At the same time, working out an extension would put some extra dollars against the salary cap almost immediately.

How much is Ingram worth? Should the Pelicans offer him the max, or should David Griffin take a “wait and see approach” this summer?

Why trade for him to let him walk?

For starters, let’s consider who the Pelicans traded away when they acquired Ingram.

Anthony Davis is already one of the best big men of this generation, and there is a chance he could be one of the faces of the league in the next few years. He is that talented.

Whenever teams trade away a player of that caliber, they hope to receive multiple quality players in return. Well, Griffin got an All-Star in Ingram, who has lived up to his draft potential.

Why would the Pelicans allow Ingram to even sniff out other offers? He fits positional needs, and he will not even be 23 until September. As good as he has been this year, Ingram still has so much room to grow, particularly on the defensive end. His ceiling is tremendous.

Ingram is turning into the type of player an executive can build around. And given Griffin’s experience surrounding stars with talent (ahem, LeBron James), he should keep Ingram around.

Zion

It can be frustrating to hear Williamson’s name consistently inserted into conversations about the Pelicans.

But it must be said: this team is still figuring out their identity with Zion on the floor. They are 6-5 since Williamson made his debut, but they have also been far more competitive against a tough schedule.

Ultimately, Ingram and Williamson are the pillars of the rebuild in New Orleans. Fortunately, their skill sets also complement one another.

The ability to solidify the pair’s future together makes Ingram an invaluable commodity this summer. His play has validated his worth, and Griffin should be aggressive in offering him a big contract.