Before the 2016 NBA Draft, Brandon Ingram was often touted as similar to Kevin Durant. That ultimately has so far proven to be a comparison mostly made due to the two’s similar body type, but if lately it’s seemed like Ingram is at least scoring better, it’s because he is.
“He pretty much is the offense. We can give him the ball and get out of the way and know it’s going to be a bucket. He scores pretty easily,” said Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball after Ingram scored 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting in a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
But while Ingram scoring is obviously not a bad thing, Lakers head coach Luke Walton cautioned that he has to do it in a specific way. “We want Brandon to play the game as it comes to him. There’s some people that are straight scorers, Brandon is not one of them,” Walton explained.
“He’s a player who can score a lot, but he’s also a very good playmaker. The way he can handle pick-and-rolls, his vision on the court, we want him taking what the defense gives him.
“Obviously, in some games as he continues to grow as a young player, that requires him to take over by scoring. Then, yeah, do that. But to say, ‘Every night we want you to come out and take 21 shots,’ no, that’s not what we’re looking for. But there will definitely be nights when that happens.”
It’s been happening a lot more during Ingram’s sophomore campaign than it did during his first season in the league. Ingram’s 16.4 points per game rank second on the Lakers behind only Kyle Kuzma (16.7), and he said the key to his offensive improvement was simple.
“Just continue to be aggressive and make the right play for my teammates. Whether it’s scoring the basketball or looking for the open man, just trying to be aggressive on every single play,” Ingram said.
Ball feels like Ingram has done so relatively well since he began hitting his jumpers at a higher rate recently, making 62.5 percent of his shots from 15-24 feet over the Lakers’ last five games while continuing to shoot 72 percent at the rim over that time span.
“He just had to adjust. He gets to the basket great, but teams started scouting him and loading up on that side. It’s definitely difficult to guard him when he’s doing both,” Ball said.
Five games is far from a bullet-proof sample size, but it’s a start, and Ingram said continuing to make similar tweaks and adjustments to his game is his biggest goal for the rest of the season.
“Whether it’s shooting the basketball or driving the basketball. And on the defensive end, just trying to get better and better every single practice and every single game. Just trying to show up every single night for my teammates,” Ingram said.
If the Ingram that showed up against the Spurs continues to make his presence felt the rest of the season, Ingram will have met those goals and then some.
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