Brandon Ingram: Los Angeles Lakers Rising Star, Part III
It seems as if Brandon Ingram was forgotten this 2017-2018 season. It might have been because he missed more than 20 games due to injury, but don’t let this fool you. This lanky, small forward has proven his ability to be a rising star in only 59 games.
The first peek of Brandon Ingram was in 2015 while playing basketball for Duke University. He stunned recruiters throughout his first and only season. In just 36 games Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Impressive numbers for a freshman. He earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors, also ranked in top 3 of all-time freshman leaders in scoring and three-pointers. It was no surprise then that Ingram was the second overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. The pick that belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In his first year as a Laker, Ingram was not as impressive as everyone assumed he would be. Consequently, he averaged 9.4 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, but he played almost every game and was consistent. Ingram was named to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge for NBA All-Star Weekend. He was also named NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Anxious to see what more Ingram could prove, he headed into the 2017-2018 season with promise.
Twinkle Of Hope
Ingram was again, consistent at the beginning of the season. He continued to grow as the season progressed and every Lakers fans’ eyes began to twinkle. Then, on November 29th, Ingram and the Lakers took on the Golden State Warriors. In a close loss in overtime, Ingram scored a career and season-high 32 points, along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Ingram’s amazing ability to shoot was a glimpse of the potential offensive threat he could become, along with his killer intuition on the defensive end.
On March 1st, B.I. suffered a groin injury that kept him out for almost the rest of the season, along with a neck muscle contusion. That would be all we would see from Ingram, making it easy to overlook his potential. However, please don’t count him out for this upcoming season.
Rising Star Potential
Coming in at 6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan, Ingram’s frame alone is just something to gawk at. Simply by the way that he’s naturally built, it will make him into a player who can do just about everything on the floor. On offense, Ingram has proven that he can finish plays. A simple look into his stats is proof of his meticulous shooting. Last season, Ingram shot 47.0% from field goal range, 39.0% from 3-point range, and 68.1% at the free-throw line. A vast difference from his rookie year. Watching him play, his increased strength at the rim was a notable change that allowed him to be more efficient on offense. Yet, he wasn’t afraid to take a perimeter shot when needed.
On defense, his presence was felt. The transition from offense to defense in a game was a quick one for Ingram and for most of the rest of the Lakers this season. Ingram would quickly jump on defense and use his length and wingspan to force tough shots from his opponent. Although it was a daunting task to guard some big men like former center for the Washington Wizards, Marcin Gortat or former Golden State Warrior, Zaza Pachulia, Ingram would not settle and continued to be an authority on defense.
The only thing stopping Ingram right now is health. His injury was not as bad as others, but it did take him out of the season for a long period of time. If Ingram can learn to assess his injuries and actually work to prevent them, he could be looking at a standout season. After that, what the Lakers need out of Ingram is consistency. Ingram needs to be a consistent tough presence, on both ends of the court, to not only improve as a player but to help take the Lakers to a winning season. If you forgot about Brandon Ingram, well, it’s time you remembered.
Sports Al Dente will be following Brandon Ingram all season as one of our rising stars!