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Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Brandon Ingram discusses possible All-Star honor, Zion expects ‘similar’ plan for minutes

In six days, New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram will learn whether he’s been named a first-time NBA All-Star, but regardless of the news he gets on the evening of Jan. 30, the 22-year-old vows to make it a positive.

“I’ll be keeping up with it,” Ingram said after this morning’s shootaround of monitoring All-Star updates. “It will be a blessing to (be an All-Star). But if I don’t receive it, it’s extra motivation to keep working hard.”

Ingram not only has a chance to appear in the league’s showcase game next month in Chicago, but he’s also put himself in the Most Improved Player conversation, having increased his production in numerous categories. He is averaging 25.5 points per game, up from 18.3 last season, while also becoming a better rebounder and assister. Many NBA players see statistical increases due to greater playing time, but Ingram is logging only slightly more minutes this season, at 34.7 mpg, compared to 33.8 in ’18-19.

Ingram placed seventh among Western Conference frontcourt players in the combined All-Star voting consisting of fans, media and players. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard were named frontcourt starters, while spots 4 through 6 in the voting were filled by Nikola Jokic, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Other notes from Friday’s shootaround at Ochsner Sports Performance Center:

New Orleans (17-28) has a chance to register an unlikely season sweep over Denver (30-14) tonight, having posted two of its most impressive victories against the Nuggets, on Halloween and Christmas.

“In both of those games, we followed the game plan and were good on the defensive end, rebounded the ball and got out in transition, trying to get open threes on the wing,” Ingram said. The Pelicans shot over 40 percent from three-point range in both matchups, something they’ve done 20 times in 37 games overall. …

Zion Williamson played 18 minutes Wednesday vs. San Antonio, but managed to score 22 points in his NBA debut, including 17 points over a span of 3:08 in the fourth quarter. Asked what the plan will be for his playing time Friday, the 19-year-old said, “I feel like it’s going to be pretty similar.” …

Williamson on his on-court chemistry with Lonzo Ball, who assisted Williamson’s three-point baskets: “It’s great playing with a guy like that. I can make cuts off the ball and sometimes break the play, but I know he’s going to see me and find me. I think it definitely opens up the game a lot for me.” …

One of the most interesting aspects of Friday’s game for New Orleans will be to see how Williamson responds in his second game, in what probably will be closer to a “normal” atmosphere in the regular season (at least media-wise). Williamson said his main objective is to “just try to be myself.” He indicated that he may have been overanalyzing during some of his minutes in Wednesday’s game.

“The first three quarters I was trying not to make a mistake, trying to blend in. But then something clicked in my mind and I said, ‘Alright, I’ve got to make a game out of this.’ ” …

Ingram, after being asked about expectations for Williamson in his second game: “There are no expectations. Just for him to play free, play in space and take whatever the defense gives him.” …

Williamson on whether defenses will change their approach after he shot 4/4 from three-point range Wednesday, a fairly surprising development: “Honestly, I don’t know. They might leave it the same, or give it (less) space. To be honest, I’m just going to make the right play.”

Ingram on Williamson’s shooting accuracy vs. San Antonio: “To have the confidence to knock those threes down, is big for our team and big for him. Hopefully he can continue to do that, and maybe he’ll add another dimension to our team.”

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