The Los Angeles Lakers were thrilled when they were able to select Duke forward Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. With a versatile game and a seemingly endless wingspan, the lanky Ingram offers a high ceiling and the ability to be successfully slotted into a number of different roles, which gives coach Luke Walton flexibility with his lineups.
Of course, at barely 19-years-old and 190 pounds, Ingram isn’t ready to bear a large burden just yet. Expectations are high thanks to comparisons to Kevin Durant, but he still has a long way to go before he will be ready to truly make his mark with the Lakers. To his credit, Ingram has taken the approach of staying patient while he learns the NBA game, and told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register that he is focusing on the little things in the meantime:
“As the season goes on, I’m sure my role will get better. But right now I’m just focusing on the little things on the defensive end,” Ingram said. “On the offensive end, I’ll try to affect the game. I’m not really worried about my role right now and what I’m doing. I’m just trying to do all the little things.”
Ingram’s on-court production reflects his current role with the team, as he is averaging just 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. His field goal and free throw percentages have also not been spectacular at just 41 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Still, Ingram has done an admirable job on the defensive side of the ball, using his length to disrupt passing lanes and throw off shooters. His defensive rating of 97.4 is second only to Tarik Black among rotation players.
It may take some time, but with each game, we see more confidence from Ingram, and there have been enough flashes of brilliance to suggest that his future is very bright.