The Los Angeles Lakers announced Brandon Ingram had been cleared to return to the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. He missed most of the month with a left groin strain suffered on a late foul in the March 1 game with the Miami Heat.
The Lakers have struggled without Ingram, going 5-7 without the sophomore forward in the lineup. Ingram is tied for first on the team in scoring this season with Julius Randle, averaging 16.2 points per game as part of a breakout campaign that’s also seen him average 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.
Ingram was only just upgraded to questionable on Tuesday when he scrimmaged 3-on-3 with his teammates, and will be on a minutes restriction in his return, according to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
Brandon Ingram will play on a minutes restriction tonight.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) March 28, 2018
With Ingram back in the lineup, the Lakers will have one of their best (and only) sources of playmaking back on the floor, and his return will also enable the team to stop playing Kyle Kuzma so many minutes out of position at small forward.
Since Ingram went down and further sapped the team’s wing depth, the Lakers had been playing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (39.2), Kyle Kuzma (38.6) and Lonzo Ball (38.2) huge minutes to make up for the playmaking absence he created.
Even on a minutes restriction, Ingram at the very least being able to capably sop up some minutes on the wing will ease those players’ burden, even if he doesn’t play his best basketball in his first game back.