Excitement flooded the streets of Southern California when the Los Angeles Lakers retained the rights to their top-3 protected pick in the 2016 NBA Draft during the draft lottery. The Lakers were awarded the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and selected Brandon Ingram out of Duke University, an outstanding consolation after L.A. suffered their worst season in franchise history.
Expectations are high for the 18-year-old sensation, but the Lakers and their fans are well aware that it will take some time for Ingram to develop into the star they all hope he will become. Most of the sports industry feels the same way, as ESPN’s Summer Forecast projected Ingram to finish third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Ben Simmons and Kris Dunn:
Simmons was the consensus No. 1 overall pick throughout the majority of his lone season at Louisiana State University and Dunn turned some heads with his flashy style of play during his four years spent at Providence. Ingram made things interesting near the end of his college season, as scouts began to wonder if he could challenge Simmons for the top pick.
The Philadelphia 76ers eventually selected Simmons, who displayed incredible court vision and playmaking during his short stint in the Las Vegas Summer League. Ingram also showed flashes of excellence for the Lakers, as he used his lengthy frame to score over and around defenders.
Dunn ranking ahead of Ingram may be a surprise to some, but ESPN’s projections are also about opportunity. Many believe the Timberwolves will move Ricky Rubio and Dunn will be the full-time point guard sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Ingram is on a Lakers team where D’Aneglo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle will all need their shots, not to mention veterans like Lou Williams and Luol Deng.
Only time will tell whether ESPN is correct in their projections, but even if he doesn’t shine immediately, the Lakers have a gem in their rookie.