After tumultuous years in Los Angeles, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart all thought they would finally have the opportunity to make their own names with the New Orleans Pelicans.

However, NBA writer Christopher Dodson of Forbes.com believes the long-term future of these young talents in the Bayou is far from guaranteed, as the next two seasons will serve as an auditioning window for these players, particularly former No.2 overall picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

In his piece, Dodson described the present situation for Ball and Ingram and provided a scenario where Pelicans general manager David Griffin would get optimal value out of these two terrific young players.

Dodson opined that the best move right now for the Pelicans is to take a wait-and-see approach for both Ball and Ingram.

Brandon Ingram

Ingram is eligible for a rookie-scale contract extension this offseason, but as far as where it stands right now, it’s unlikely a deal will be reached before the deadline.

Pelicans will likely play out the 2019-20 season and see how the former Duke standout would develop as a complementary piece to franchise star Zion Williamson. Should Ingram turn into a player the Pelicans envisioned him to be, locking him up to a max extension would be the next ideal step for Griffin.

Ingram, 21, is coming off a career year, averaging 18.3 points on 49 percent FG shooting (33 percent from 3-point area), 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 33.8 minutes per game during 2019-20 NBA season. He was limited to 52 games last year after team physicians discovered a deep vein thrombosis in his arm.

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Lonzo Ball

As for Ball, he has two years to sharpen his perimeter shooting. He’s already an above-average defender and elite passer, a skill set that makes him a perfect piece next to the high-flying Williamson. Then again, his shooting percentage from 3-point (32 percent) and free-throw (43 percent) areas warrant drastic improvements for him to become a better floor spacer.

Dodson thinks that Ball would likely be the odd-man out, especially if Ingram lives up to his potential.

The Forbes.com basketball pundit feels the Pelicans will have more options in replacing Ball than a legitimate swingman like Ingram.

He added that by packaging Ball with future draft picks, the Pelicans may have a shot at adding an established star or a serviceable veteran who would help them get over the hump in the West.

“Should Ingram excel, Griffin may have no choice but to trade Ball. Trading Ball may upset Williamson, but he will quickly understand the business works both ways.

Trading Ball and picks for an established star would open the Pelicans championship window sooner, and possibly allow Williamson a longer competitive window as well,” Dodson wrote in his Forbes.com piece.

Ball, 21, averaged 9.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 5.3 rebounds in 30 minutes per game last season. As mentioned, he continued to struggle shooting-wise but he managed to up his field goal (40 percent) and three-point (32 percent) clips last season.

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