The Los Angeles Lakers were fortunate to walk away from the draft lottery with the second overall pick as the 2016 NBA Draft is largely considered to have two high-caliber players at the top in LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram. For the Lakers, the pressure of deciding between the two is essentially gone, as they will almost certainly select whichever one of the two the Philadelphia 76ers pass on with the number one pick.
For some time now Simmons has been considered the top prospect from the 2016 draft class, but during the college season, Ingram began slowly chipping away at that lead. Now there is a serious debate about which one of the two should be the top pick although the 76ers are still rumored to be leaning heavily towards Simmons.
However, Ingram has been working hard to improve on areas of weakness that both the Lakers and 76ers will have questions about, specifically his strength and shooting. ESPN’s Chad Ford recently watched one of his workouts, and walked away impressed (Insider):
(Ingram) has an effortless stroke. He didn’t seem to be straining at all on the 3s. That’s unusual for most prospects, even great shooters, so early in the process. Typically it takes players some time to adjust. Ingram is well on his way.
There are some concerns regarding Ingram’s shot, as even though he hit an impressive 41 percent from three he only knocked down 68 percent of his free throws, which can be an indicator of long-term success as a shooter.
There are also questions about his body as he is rail-thin at just 197 pounds, which has led to questions about how well he will handle physically stronger players in the NBA. While Ford didn’t see Ingram’s strength-training routine, he did note that he has put on seven pounds already. Despite all the concerns, Ingram remains confident in himself:
“I think confidence got me this far. I always thought I was the best player wherever I was, even with my build I always had confidence. Confidence to do whatever I wanted regardless of what others said. Determination to make a basket or get a defensive stop. I’ve always been responsible, have put my teammates first and taken responsibility for my own actions.”
Teams are also enamored with Ingram’s length. At 6’9″ with a 7’4″ wingspan he can cover a lot of ground very quickly, and averaged 1.4 blocks per game in college thanks largely to his instincts as a help defender.
Regardless of who they select, the Lakers will be adding a quality player to their team at the draft on June 23rd. We won’t know for sure whether it will be Ingram or Simmons until the 76ers pick is announced, but either way, Lakers fans have a lot to be excited about.