Some NBA fans are concerned with Brandon Ingram. In the words of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, “R-E-L-A-X.”
The Lakers’ 2nd overall pick has enjoyed a nice start to his NBA career, contrary to what many others are saying. His box score stats (7 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists per game) haven’t exactly looked no. 2 overall worthy, but one, those stats don’t have the context it holds, and two, he has impacted the game in many other ways.
The stats don’t look “impressive” but remember that a lot has to be factored in to make such a statement, especially for a rookie. Lakers coach Luke Walton currently has Ingram in a bench role while he settles into the NBA game. The rookie out of Duke is currently averaging 22.5 minutes per game and taking about 6 shots per game. Now the story is getting clearer. A main factor in his “low” points per game average is the fact that he has yet to play starters minutes and has yet to be a main focal point in the offense, as the Lakers have employed a committee approach to winning games.
With that being said, if his stats were converted to per 36 minutes (the average amount of minutes a starter in the NBA plays), he would currently be averaging around 11 points per game and 5 rebounds. Nothing special scoring wise, but the offensive side of the ball is not only about points scored.
While small forward is Ingram’s natural position, Luke Walton has used Ingram as a point guard in his offense to keep the rookie engaged throughout the game. Ingram’s natural ability at running the second unit has been shown as he has moved the ball well the league’s best offensive bench unit (statistically).
Another thing to be impressed about is his defense. Ingram has often disrupted the opposing offense with his length and quickness well put to use in the defensive end of the floor. Prior to the Lakers’ win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brandon Ingram has a 42.9 DFG%. This means that Ingram is only letting his defensive matchup shoot 42.9% from the field while those same opponents average nearly 45% when Ingram is not guarding them. That makes a -1.9% difference which means that opponents are shooting 1.9% less when Ingram is guarding them. Pretty impressive defensive numbers for a rookie. Luke Walton has endorsed Ingram’s defense, saying that he has the chance to be a lock-down defender as he spends more time in the league.
One play that showed his defensive potential was against the Phoenix Suns. Alex Len prepared to take a shot inside the paint only to be blocked by Ingram and his long wingspan. The rookie’s block eventually started a fast break and was capped off by a layup by none other than Brandon.
Another play that impressed fans was against the Brooklyn Nets. Trevor Booker, a 228 pound power forward posted up on 196 pound Brandon Ingram. While Booker backed down the rookie with ease, Tiny Dog, as his teammates like to call him, again used his length to his advantage and swatted the shot. Plays like these remind a fan of how impactful he is even if he is still a rookie.
The key word here is patience. Ingram has been making a positive impact on this team with his playmaking and defense, it is only a matter of time until he starts getting buckets, the aspect of his game that is reminiscent to that of Kevin Durant. Not only does he have the skill set but also the desire to learn from veterans of the league such as previously mentioned Durant and even Andre Iguodala. After solid back to back games including a new career high in points (16 points), it is looking like the rookie is finding his shot. As is his teammate, Brandon Ingram too is #Loading.
Link to stats used in this article via nba.com and Basketball Reference: