Lost in all of the Lonzo and Kuzma craziness is the play of LA’s 2nd overall pick just a year ago.
Brandon Ingram, the Lakers’ second-year man, has enjoyed a solid start to the season after struggling for most of his rookie season and this preseason. A combination of both stints had many people calling him a bust even before this season started.
Factor that with all the hype surrounding Lonzo Ball and the great surprise known as Kyle Kuzma, and suddenly, Brandon Ingram seemed like an afterthought to many.
Fast forward to this regular season, where Ingram has already surpassed his career high in points twice and numerous other games where his presence was felt everywhere on the floor. Suddenly, he was playing like a future all-star. Ingram still didn’t get the praise he deserved, despite getting better in different aspects of the game.
Just three games ago, he posted a 26-point-11-rebound game for the Lakers in a loss to Joel Embiid and the 76ers. He got due praise but still didn’t have people talking about his bright future in the NBA.
Prior to his game against the Denver Nuggets, Ingram has been averaging 14.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal per game on 45% from the field. They are stats that aren’t gonna jump out at the normal viewer but after a little digging, it might.
Assuming Ingram keeps up this production throughout the season, he would join an elite group of players as the only ones to average at least 14.5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal per game at age 20 and in their second season in the league. There are 4 players matching these criteria and the other 3 players are names one might know.
The other 3 players joining Ingram in this list are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Garnett.
Pretty elite company for a guy who was once considered a bust after the preseason. Preseason.
Ingram came back from his rookie season improved in most areas of the game. Brandon Ingram changed his shooting form after much was said about his old form. Ingram came back this season with a higher release point on his shot which has yielded positive results.
If it wasn’t about his shot, people complained about his body frame which led to many questions such as his success at finishing against more physical players. While Ingram’s frame hasn’t changed much from the past season, he’s finishing through contact like he’s 20 pounds heavier. In specific games against teams that feature dominant centers, Ingram got to the paint numerous times like it was nothing. To put the cherry on top with Brandon Ingram’s increased success at finishing at the basket: he is currently shooting 65.3% at the rim (prior to his game against Denver). To get an idea of how that actually is, Kyrie Irving, one of the bests finishers in the league, shoots 61.9% at the rim.
Simple things like that should have any fans excited about Ingram’s future.
Video via Real GD’s Latest Highlights
Factor in his ability to do it all on the floor and you got yourself a star in the making.
However, people have still kept quiet about Brandon Ingram.
Why? The only somewhat logical reason deals with the expectations he had before he even played regular season game. In the 2016 Team USA training camp, Kevin Durant claimed how Ingram was the first person he saw that reminded him, of him. Basically, KD compared Ingram to himself. At first glance, it was difficult to disagree with that narrative. Both were long-armed SF’s with a wiry frame. However, the play styles were very much distinct from each other.
Video via Lakers Nation
People then assumed that Ingram would be a KD-type scorer in this league. Quite unfair considering the league has never seen a scorer like Durant, ever. Once people started realizing he wasn’t gonna be the next KD, they began writing him off.
News flash: it’s OKAY if someone isn’t the next KD. Let players be their own player. Ingram’s ceiling is still amazing considering that he’s not close to his physical and skill peak. To say that he isn’t anything special because he isn’t the next KD is absurd. KD or not, Ingram can ball.
So what’s next for Brandon Ingram?
Watching Ingram this season, one can tell that he’s starting to realize how close he is to being unguardable. Despite his wiry frame, he can get to the basket at will no matter what the defense throws at him and his improved jump shot has had a positive effect, especially in the mid-range. It would be nice for him to look to get the three-point game involved a little more (only averaging 1.4 attempts from deep) just so defenses would have an already tougher time defending him.
He’s also only averaging around 12 shots a game and with the way he has been scoring, that number could/should definitely go up as the season progresses. More shots put defenses on their heels and will open up lanes for guys like Lonzo Ball.
When you think of young stars in the NBA, Brandon Ingram’s name rarely ever gets put up in the conversation.
The numbers are there, the eye test is there, the work ethic is there so it’s only fair to put him in the group of rising stars in the NBA. If Brandon Ingram is doing something only LeBron, KD, and Garnett did in their age-20 and year 2 seasons, then it’s time to stop with the “bust” narratives and acknowledge that Brandon Ingram is indeed, on the path stardom.