Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram becoming the most expendable

With a potential Anthony Davis trade in the not-too-distant future, many are speculation who on the Los Angeles Lakers will be traded. The answer is starting to emerge naturally.

Everyone should be joyful about the Los Angeles Lakers right now. The team battled its way back to a 7-6 record and came up with a huge win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night. After missing two free throws with a one-point deficit, LeBron James gave the Lakers the lead with a putback dunk.

Trae Young then went for the game-winning basket for Atlanta and recent acquisition Tyson Chandler tipped it just enough to alter its flight path and give the Lakers the win. It has been nearly two years since the Los Angeles Lakers have been above .500.

Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac are the only players on the roster that were on the roster on Nov. 22, 2016. Ingram’s post-game comments encapsulated how every Laker fan feels after finally moving back above .500 (h/t Silver Screen and Roll).

“It’s good to win. It’s good to finally have a winning attitude. We just want to continue to keep going, I don’t think that we can be complacent.”

The Lakers certainly won’t be getting complacent, and if anything, is going to be the exact opposite moving forward. While it is easy to get swept up in the short-term storylines and team success, the long-term goals and plan are still simple.

The Los Angeles Lakers want to add a second superstar before the start of the 2019-2020 season. While everyone knew that was the case with the Lakers’ cap situation, Magic Johnson hammered the point home before the World Series.

While Johnson specifically mentioned free agency — because any mention of a trade, even without a name, could get a tampering fine at this point — the biggest name that has been connected to the Los Angeles Lakers has been Anthony Davis.

Davis recently left his long-term agent to sign with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, the same agency that represents LeBron James. And while there are other stars signed to Klutch Sports that don’t play with LeBron, that naturally opened the door for the Brow to join the King.

That would require a trade and with three highly-touted trade chips in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the Lakers would try to send in return for Davis.

It’s like LeBron’s first season is a tryout of some sorts to see what players can play alongside him and who would be more expendable. So far, it is looking like Ingram is that guy.

Brandon Ingram is very talented and he will be an all-star one day, there is no question about that. However, Ingram ever reaching the level that Anthony Davis is currently on is slim. And plus, it is hard to get much better than Davis. The team would not be kicking themselves for trading Ingram for Davis.

And while some fans would say this is Lonzo Ball because of his lack of a jump shot, I think Ball has an overall impact that LeBron appreciates. Ball can dictate and help push the pace of the offense to help take some of the burden off of LeBron.

Even though his shot is not hitting how he, or the fans, would like, he is still showing that even without a jump shot he can progress into a great natural facilitating point guard and an elite defender.

Kyle Kuzma, on the other hand, plays much better alongside LeBron James than Ingram does and has had a better year thus far. While Ingram probably has the higher ceiling, Kuzma is a much more natural fit at power forward alongside James and Davis rather than Ingram at the three.

This is nothing against Brandon Ingram and the trade package would still have to be the right price to get this done. However, including Ingram might negate the other costs (more draft picks) as well as make the roster more flexible than it would be by trading Ball and/or Kuzma.

If it was a life or death situation and I had to pick between Brandon Ingram or Anthony Davis, I am obviously going to pick Davis. As the year goes along, more Laker fans are bound to feel that way as well.