The Los Angeles Lakers mediocrity over the past few seasons have set the franchise in a new direction, with the duo of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka attempting to avoid the losing ways of the past. The rebuilding process has brought forth top picks D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, with the franchise optimistic with their growth.
Of the players on the current Lakers roster, Los Angeles seems to hold Ingram in the highest regard. As the 2016-17 season progressed, Ingram got acclimated to the NBA and had stretches that demonstrated his potential greatness. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson even recently said that the Lakers would likely build around Ingram.
Now in the 2017 offseason, the Lakers secured the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft for the third consecutive season. While this 2017 class is viewed as one of the deeper ones of the decade, the Lakers understand their perspective compared to their current players. In fact, the Lakers favor Ingram over any of the players slated in the 2017 NBA draft class, via Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding:
The Lakers were higher on Ingram last year than they are on anyone this year right now. That’s not to say that during predraft circuit, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka won’t fall in love with Ball, Fox, Fultz or Jackson. Any of those four likely would’ve gone No. 3 overall in the draft last year over the likes of Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray and Dragan Bender, but Simmons and Ingram were already the definite top two options on 2016 lottery night, with the 76ers enthralled with Simmons at No. 1.
The Lakers’ view on Ingram does have implications on their offseason outlook, especially after being tied into many trade discussions. The front office could be more willing to trade their No. 2 pick over Ingram, should the Lakers receive an offer that blew them away.
Heading into the offseason, Ingram seemed like the clear-cut untouchable on the roster, in comparison to his teammates. However, Ingram’s growth would also make him the most valuable asset a team would inquire about. The front office will face a difficult decision over the impending trade talks this month, valuing their assets and players in a different fashion.
Ingram averaged 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, showing vast improvement as he got acclimated to the rigors and physical style of play. In the month of March (11 games), the Duke alumnus posted 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, while shooting 51.7 percent from the field.