Heading into the 2016-17 NBA season, all eyes will be on Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram when it comes to competing for top rookie honors. Simmons is the favorite with 2/1 odds (via Sportsbook.ag) to win the regular-season award, but the second overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers isn’t far behind at 5/1 tied with Joel Embiid followed by Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Kris Dunn (6/1).
Ingram will no doubt have his work cut out for next season in Los Angeles. The Duke product will share the floor with three other promising young players in D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson, but the 18-year-old is up for the challenge of trying become NBA Rookie of the Year.
In a recent interview with Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, Ingram admitted competing for the Rookie of the Year award is driving him with his NBA debut only a couple of months away:
“That’s something that is on my mind,” Ingram said in a phone interview with Southern California News Group. “All rookies want to win rookie of the year. That’s something that drives me.”
Unlike Simmons, Embiid, and possibly even Dunn, Ingram may have to come off the bench to start his NBA career. The Lakers signed veteran small forward Luol Deng to a four-year deal this summer. New head coach Luke Walton may go with the veteran in the starting lineup over the rookie right out of the gate in October.
Ingram could have a tough time making an impression as a reserve rather than a starter like Simmons and the other rookies with favorable odds in the race for Rookie of the Year honors.
Regardless of his situation in Los Angeles, Ingram is finding ways to get motivated ahead of his first season with the Lakers. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out and whether can earn his way into the starting lineup while also being a legitimate candidate for Rookie of the Year.