The Ingram Effect

Brandon Ingram is coming into his own. Everyone is talking about Kuzma, Ball, the coach, the distractions and ignoring that Ingram is approaching All Star numbers across the board. As a wiry-thin small forward Ingram has an uphill battle to face in every game he plays, we also tend to forget (or ignore) that the dude is still only 20 years old. Second youngest player on the roster other than Lonzo Ball. The only other Laker roughly as young as Ingram who also shoulders so much of the expectations of the franchise. Yet Ingram barely gets mentioned here or anywhere else whereas Ball, for may reasons, is talked about non-stop.

That, to me, is really weird. I mean, what’s not to like? His rim attack is lethal and now that he’s re-incorporated his mid-range jump shot (and even hitting threes at a better clip) it will open up those slashing lanes a little more. Ingram doesn’t need more than a sliver of daylight to get to the rim, either. He’s making plays for others and he doesn’t turn it over at a shockingly high rate for a player so young. He’s been making the smart pass when it’s there, rarely forces anything and he plays solid defense for a guy lacking so much in his back pocket. Regardless of his body mass, all of his defensive numbers have improved markedly over last year.

The next thing I’d like to see happen in Ingram’s development is a nice step-back jumper from the elbows down to the baseline. Steal a little from the MJ/Kobe/Dirk school of shooting. With his length even a mediocre step-back would be difficult to guard and a good one would make him lethal. I also would love to see him pass the 70% mark on his free-throws this season and start heading towards 80% in the next couple years. Those two things would likely propel him to over the 20 ppg mark (currently averaging 16.1 ppg for the season). He’s had double-digit rebounding efforts and has pushed his rebounds up over 5 and his assists over 3. Not All Star numbers…yet. But that is certainly the direction he’s trending.

For what it’s worth, there aren’t many players I’d trade for any of our guys. I’ve been a big Jordan Clarkson fan since day one, I believe Randle has the potential to be a unique skill set and his shorter than desired arms don’t bother me as he’s improved his ability to score around the rim. Kyle Kuzma is as legit a rookie talent as I’ve seen in purple and gold in a long, long time. Lonzo Ball doesn’t need to be an incredible scorer with players like that around him, he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing on defense, pushing the pace like the coach wants and working, working working on his game.

I’m not really all that sold on the idea that any free agent worth pursuing will come here this summer. To toss away the development and lessons these guys have learned as Lakers seems pretty short-sighted…but maybe Rob and Magic need to make some mistakes of their own in order to become the front office that inevitably turns the ship around. Who knows how it all shakes out in the long run. Maybe everything swings right and we end up with a triumvirate of All Stars come July…one of them being one of our own: Brandon Ingram.