Brandon Ingram scored his first points as a Los Angeles Laker in a preseason home game against the Denver Nuggets Friday night. His point total, just six. In Sunday’s rematch against the Nuggets in Denver, the no.2 overall pick notched in two points on 1-for-2 shooting to go with two rebounds.
The number of points Ingram scored against Denver isn’t important, he is a rookie on a rebuilding team who has played in just three preseason games. What is important, however, is that Ingram isn’t just struggling to find his shot but his overall rhythm within the NBA. It’s understandable that Ingram isn’t looking to find the basket just yet but he often looks uncomfortable in action and unsure of what to do on the floor. Mostly, Ingram is stagnant on offense and noticeably timid.
With head coach Luke Walton still finalizing his roster and determining rotations, Ingram has seen limited action. When he is on the court he often sticks to one corner of the floor on offense and doesn’t move without the ball. In fact, he is hardly noticeable at all on the floor as the offense seems to work around him.
On defense, Ingram has struggled to fight through screens and can easily lose ground on a pick and roll. A lot of this has to do with his size and the fact that he isn’t strong enough to compete with the physicality of the NBA.
However, despite Ingram’s lack of aggressiveness and his struggle to catch the flow of the pro game so far, when he has found the bottom of the basket his teammates and his coach are genuinely excited for him. Here he shows flashes of his potential on the defensive end with a couple of steals so far this preseason:
There seems to be overwhelming support for Ingram from the team and staff who are not worried about his slow start. The expectations are high for the second overall pick but the Lakers seem content being patient with their prize rookie by letting him develop slowly. Over time the game will slow down for Ingram and he will find his shot. He will get a better grasp on spacing and learn how to move without the ball. More importantly, he will inevitably beef up as the year progresses and in the coming offseason giving him the ability to be more physical with opponents. For now, the Lakers have a few other young studs in Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and D’Angelo Russell who are ready to lead the team back to relevancy and can also take some pressure off of Ingram. The rookie that inherited Kobe Bryant’s locker may not be ready to take over the franchise just yet, but there is no need to panic. The Lakers are easing their third-straight lottery pick into his role. After all, he doesn’t have to be the lone savior, the Lakers have three other reasons to believe the future is bright.