A month into the NBA season and the number two pick of the 2016 draft, Brandon Ingram appears to be finding his feet and his shooting in the NBA.
Brandon Ingram was taken with the number two pick in the 2016 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. If you listened to the talk going around the NBA up until June 22nd, there was a belief that he could have been taken with the number one pick.
History tells us that Ben Simmons was taken with the number one pick and is yet to play a game and Ingram was taken with the second pick and is yet to miss one.
However, there is a difference between not missing one and playing to your potential. Ingram is a shooter, his 6-foot-9, 190 pound (206 centimeter and 86 kilogram) frame is no good for grunt work in the paint.
Ingram know how to score. He is currently sitting fourth in points for all rookies with 121 on the season. He is scoring at a mediocre 7.6 points per game but when you consider that he is fighting for time with Luol Deng, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr who have established themselves in the NBA, this is not a bad effort.
Two of the players above Ingram are slightly older rookies playing on a poor team. Joel Embiid and Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers were drafted a few years prior and have spent more time around professional basketball clubs than Ingram.
Embiid has spent the past two seasons on the sidelines, but you do not spend that long with a club without learning. Saric has spent time professionally in Europe as well as competing in the Rio Olympics for his native Croatia.
The only true rookie from last years draft class that is ahead of Ingram is Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets. Murray is establishing himself within that club and is looking like a steal at pick six.
All of this is set to change however. Ingram has started to find his feet and that could be scary for the rest of the league. Ingram is starting to figure out what it takes to score in the NBA, which is totally different to college.
His first game of note was against the Golden State Warriors, which the Lakers won by 20. Ingram had his most playing time to that stage and played 27 minutes. He shot 2-of-8 from the field, and went 0-from-4 from distance. Why is this significant? Because Ingram went to the free throw line nine times, hitting eight.
Ingram ended up with 12 points on the night, learning along the way that if your shot is not falling then take contact and get to the line. Ingram is a 76 percent free throw shooter on the season but that will improve as the year goes on.
Ingram also had six rebounds, three assists and two steals on his best all round performance in the NBA to that point.
From then on, Ingram has not looked back. He has hit a field goal in every game that he has played and his three point shooting was instrumental in helping the Lakers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was 3-of-3 from outside and helped space the floor.
The Lakers were without their first choice point guard, D’Angelo Russell and as a result were reliant on Jose Calderon to run the offense. With Ingram spacing the floor, Calderon was able to drive and use players like Timofey Mozgov who was 6-of-10 on the night.
Ingram started his most recent game against the Warriors due to Randle being out injured and played well despite the Warriors revenging the 20 point loss they suffered. They handed the Lakers a 43 point face-in-the-dirt drubbing.
Ingram was equal top scorer for the Lakers with 16 points, hitting 6-of-12 of his field goals. His opponent, Kevin Durant scored 28 points but you can’t compare the two. Yet.
Due to Calderon’s lack of defense, Stephen Curry was able to score 31 points and give off nine assists, so the loss can’t be attributed to Ingram starting. Also. Deng was not able to handle Draymond Green who had five points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
It will be another 20 games or so, I think that Ingram s going to start knocking on the door to start and Deng will go back to being a bench presence who will help Ingram improve.
Ingram will not be Rookie of the Year, he will poll but he will not win the award. This does not mean that he is not going to be a star in the future though.