It looks as if Brandon Ingram will soon be returning to the Los Angeles Lakers, potentially as early as Friday, after missing the last seven games with a sprained ankle. Once that happens however, the questions about his fit next to superstar LeBron James will return in earnest.
After taking a big step forward in his second season, being a primary ball-handler and shot creator on the Lakers, Ingram has had to adjust in Year 3, playing off the ball when sharing the court with James.
There have been some obvious struggles as Ingram numbers have basically stayed the same as last season. Ingram recently spoke about this with Mike Trudell on the Lakers Voices series, admitting that it has been an adjustment playing with James while expressing confidence their chemistry will improve:
“It’s been an adjustment. Just because we’re both so ball-dominant. He can pass the ball, I can pass the basketball. He can drive the basketball, he’s a lot stronger on the finish. He can shoot the three, he can shoot the mid-range, he can do pretty much everything on the basketball floor. … I think as the games continue, that’s what’s going to help a lot because we can get a connection. We can get a connection of when somebody is going to cut, where exactly is he going to be when I drive the basketball, and where am I going to be when he drives the basketball. That’s something that as the games continue and as we continue to talk, there’s going to be some connectivity. … You said it’s been 20 games? I think it’s going to be really good. It’s going to be a lot better.”
The adjustment period for Ingram was expected, but has been frustrating. Many believed he would take the next step this year and that has yet to happen as he tries to adjust his game to playing alongside a ball-dominant player like James.
Meanwhile, Kyle Kuzma, a more natural scorer than Ingram, has thrived next to James and looks to be the better fit moving forward.
However, it is still early on in the process for Ingram, particularly when taking into account he’s missed four games due to suspension and seven more — though essentially eight — because of the sprained ankle.
And one thing that everyone knows is that he will put in the work and do everything possible to turn things around.