Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has missed the last 11 games with a groin strain he sustained while taking a hard foul from Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow a few weeks ago.
While the team has certainly missed Ingram, going 5-6 without their second-leading scorer in the lineup, the time on the bench has given the sophomore forward a chance to watch his teammates and their progress in a way he couldn’t while he was on the floor.
Ingram was upgraded to day-to-day status last weekend and was hopeful to go through a full practice, then return against the Indiana Pacers. But an increase in activity left him sore, preventing Ingram from participating in a full-contact practice.
Although he’s been unable to contribute on the court, Ingram explained he’s done some learning off of it, via the Lakers’ official Twitter account:
“How good Julius Randle is. I watch every night when he gets the basketball, some of the shots he makes, how strong he is going to the basket, no one can really stop him. They know exactly what he’s going to do but no can stop him. How good Kyle Kuzma has been on defense lately in his individual defense. A lot of guys are just stepping up over a few months.”
Over the time Ingram has missed, Randle has gone to another level, forming one of the most dominant duos in the NBA with Isaiah Thomas, leaving little wonder as to why Ingram is so impressed with Randle’s play.
Kuzma has faced the even tougher task of playing out of position and filling in for Ingram while playing out of position at small forward, an adjustment that hasn’t always looked easy but that Kuzma has readily accepted and seemed to relish.
Kuzma has also shown impressive lateral quickness while defending quicker small fowards, further showcasing his positional versatility and long-term potential to be a Swiss Army knife for Los Angeles.
Still, the team would surely rather have Ingram in the lineup than learning about these things from the bench.