For the past few seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled on the defensive end of the floor. In fact, they came in dead last in defensive rating last season, which is a problem they are determined to rectify this year.
The Lakers added defensive wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and rim protector Brook Lopez to help with that endeavor, but they are also going to need some of their young players to improve on that end if they plan on rising up the ranks.
One player that the team believes can really step up on the defensive side of the ball is second-year forward Brandon Ingram. Head coach Luke Walton recently expressed his belief that Ingram will make a leap as a defender to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
Luke says Brandon Ingram will be a great defender at some point in his career. Not sure if that will happen this year.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) September 26, 2017
Ingram has all of the physical tools necessary to eventually become a nightmare on the defensive end of the floor. His limbs appear to be endless thanks to his 7’3″ wingspan, which should allow him to wall off passing lanes. Additionally, as his timing improves, Ingram should be able to become an effective weak-side shot blocker, which is something that the Lakers desperately need.
As a small forward, Ingram will have to guard some of the most talented offensive players in the NBA, and it’s going to take some time for him to figure out the proper footwork and angles to take. Additionally, while Ingram is certainly long, as a rookie he was often dislodged by bigger, stronger players.
He has worked hard this summer to get stronger and put on weight naturally, and the results are clearly evident. He is still strikingly thin, but the added muscle should be of great benefit as Ingram strives to become an impact player on both ends of the floor.