Brandon Ingram has had one of the quietest breakout seasons of any former second overall pick, and while his production in the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Philadelphia 76ers was far from his best game of the season, his clutch play down the stretch demonstrated why anyone who gave up on Ingram during his preseason struggles made a mistake.
Ingram’s line of 21 points on 21 shots looks a lot like the player whose old locker he now occupies. But he most fulfilled his desire to resemble Kobe Bryant in the way his full array of skills wasn’t totally on display until the fourth quarter.
Ingram’s endless arms allowed him to play both swarming defense to clog passing lanes and close windows while also showing they’ll let him fire shots from all over the floor no matter who is guarding him.
While Ingram hardly claimed to be Kobe after the game, he did tell the studio crew on Spectrum SportsNet that being the Lakers’ closer is his eventual goal, if he isn’t already:
“That’s something I want to be. That’s something I dream to be on this team. … I do think I am.”
Ingram showed if with his play down the stretch even before he iced the game with his clutch three. Ingram calmly took the midrange jumpers defenses give up when he runs pick-and-rolls throughout the game, and while he’s shooting just 39.5 percent on those attempts throughout the year, on Thursday he showed signs of breaking through, first in the Lakers’ opening quarter:
And then later when it mattered most:
Ingram made it sound as if an expectation should be set of him taking more of those kinds of shots:
“I’m gaining confidence every single game that I play. I just feel more comfortable in my jumper, more comfortable in getting to the rim.”
The latter area has been where Ingram has truly shined, shooting 60.1 percent in the restricted area, where 153 of his 317 shots have come from this season, impressive efficiency considering the volume.
Arguably more impressive is how Ingram has continued to get to the rim despite only shooting just 33.3 percent from distance on the season, but he showed how he’s made it possible on one early drive. His long strides allow him to instantly get around defenders, and in this case finish all over them from the other side of the rim:
Ingram’s biggest play of the night was also his furthest from the basket, calmly drilling a game-winning three that left his teammates impressed but not surprised.
Jordan Clarkson with some words of endearment for Brandon Ingram’s game-winner: “Sh-t, that mother f-cker was wide open! He better shoot that mother f-cker. If you ain't shoot that sh-t, I might’ve slapped them worms right off your mother f-ckin head.” ???? pic.twitter.com/giTqO9rHkx
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 8, 2017
Even still, Ingram showed impressive confidence by continuing to fire on a night his shot wasn’t falling. And Lonzo Ball made it clear during his postgame interview that he feels more shots like that are coming from Ingram, as seen postgame on Spectrum SportsNet:
“I say he’s the closer all the time. We need a bucket, we’re going to go to him.”
If Ingram continues to deliver the way he did against Philadelphia, then it’s safe to say he will get his wish and the Lakers will be calling on him in the clutch for a long time.