Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers have made it clear that they are going to build their team around the talents and future of Brandon Ingram. Brandon Ingram showed in his rookie season that he is ready to take that task head on and have the Lakers back in the postseason in no time. The physical tools this young phenom has was definitely on display every night he stepped on the court.
The ease in which he was able to blow past Giannis Antetokounmpo and then rise over one of the longest defenders in the league is remarkable. Once Brandon Ingram is able to put on a little more weight, he will be able to bully his way to the basket and finish through while absorbing the contact from the defender.
During Ingram’s rookie season, he was able to put up some decent numbers as the #2 pick from the 2016 draft class. Ingram averaged 9.4 points per game, 4 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per games. While many of the many opposing fanbases want to label him a bust, some context is needed when looking at this player. Brandon Ingram was able to showcase all of his talents as the primary scorer at Duke University during his only year on campus. It was evident though that with his tiny frame that he would struggle in the beginning of his rookie season due to the fact that now he would be going up against grown NBA players instead of other college athletes.
This clip above, which happened after the all-star break, was when Ingram put it all together. During this game, he was able to show off all of his offensive talent. Being that he is 6’9″, he was already going to be able to get his shot off against most defenders. One of the things that separates him from other young prospects is that his shot release is much higher than the rest, meaning his shots will rarely be blocked and that having a hand in his face won’t affect him as much. Ingram’s post all-star game stats had his offensive production jump up to 13 points per game while shooting 47% percent.
Watch how he is able to run at Paul Pierce with a head of steam and shake him for an easy bucket. This will become a staple in his game since he is a pretty decent ball handler. Ingram showed a massive improvement in his post play as well. He was absolutely dominating Jamaal Crawford in the point and the veteran had no clue on how to stop the mature rookie. Once Ingram realizes that in future pick and roll situations that the smaller man will be switched on to him, he should look to dominate that match-up since he will have the size advantage on him. It’s clear to see that once in that position, Ingram has the talented post moves to score down low or set up a teammate for an easy 2.
Another thing that separates Ingram from the rest of his rookie class is his ability to make the long contested two-point shot attempt. This critical skill used to be so valuable to a team before teams started launching three pointers like a t-shirt out of cannon. Look for this part of his game to be very valuable to the Lakers playoff aspirations once the purple and gold get back to postseason play since the game normally gets tighter and these types of shots come back into play.
Ingram’s ability to finish around the rim and play above the rim will also help him become the best player out of the 2016 rookie class and will eventually lead him to multiple All-NBA team selections. With his seven-foot wingspan, very few NBA players are able to disrupt his shot. Couple that wingspan with his ability to glide through the paint and with his explosive hops, he is going to be a human highlight film for many years to come. Ingram was able to convert 60% of his chances around the rim for his rookie year which had Luke Walton grinning from ear to ear seeing his rookie not shy away from the contact that comes with entering the paint.
One area in which Brandon Ingram will need to show strides in year two is defensive awareness. All of the physical tools are at his disposal to become a defensive stopper for the Lakers, however he sometimes looks lost in defensive rotations. His long arms and speed will cause ball handlers nightmares when they try to get past him, and will always be looking to send shots back if the man with the ball tries to score on him. Ingram averaged only 0.6 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game, so look for those to improve once his focus on defense improves.
Lastly, for Brandon Ingram to become the next Laker great, he is going to have to improve on his shocking three-point shooting. Coming out of college, Brandon Ingram was a pretty good shooter from behind the arc. He was able to shoot 41% from behind the arc his freshman year, and many scouts and GM’s believed that the success he showed with that would translate over. No need to panic though since the player that Ingram gets compared to most (Kevin Durant) also struggled from behind the arc in his rookie campaign. Brandon Ingram actually shot a better percent from deep this year (29.4%) than Durant did during his rookie year (28.8). Luke Walton and many other coaches have stated that during the offseason, Ingram will be putting in a lot of work behind the arc to become a more reliable option from deep.
Overall, Brandon Ingram is going to be a stud. The future is very bright for this kid who already seemed to put the game together at the end of last season. Look for him to dominate the Summer League circuit in Las Vegas this summer, and then carry that on during his second year in the league.