This NBA season has proved to be as good as advertised from all the activity of the offseason. With the Paul George rumors, Kyrie demanding to be traded, Chris Paul to the Rockets, and Russell Westbrook and Joel Embiid contract extensions, almost all offseason moves made sense. The only one that was I questioned was why is Lakers guard Brandon Ingram untouchable? Magic Johnson in all the trade rumors for Paul George insisted that Brandon Ingram would not be made available. A player who coming into the league being heralded as the next Kevin Durant had a very pedestrian and disappointing rookie season averaging 9.4 PPG for a bad Lakers team. Was he really not worth moving for Paul George?
Now a quarter of the way into the NBA season, I seem to have been very incorrect in my opinion of Ingram. I was in the camp of calling Ingram a bust a few weeks into this season. Ingram’s past months’ worth of performances has shown Magic Johnson to be smart in the rebuild of the Lakers.
All of this came full circle last night in Ingram’s game winning 3 point shot against the 76ers. In Ingram’s past 10 games he is averaging 19.3 PPG. That puts him above last year’s number one pick Ben Simmons’ last ten games where he is averaging 15.9 PPG. While Ingram is averaging 16.2 PPG to Simmons’ 17.7 PPG this season, they are comparable and deemed worthy of being the number 1 and number 2 picks respectively in last year’s NBA Draft.
Kevin Durant averaged 25.3 PPG in his second year in the league, and while Ingram may not reach that mark, he will be on his way to fulfilling those lofty expectations that were set on him coming into the league. 76ers coach Brett Brown made the comparison again last night after Ingram’s performance, saying Ingram is reminiscent of a young Kevin Durant. Ingram has improved offensively, having his field goal percentage increase from 40% to 45% and his 3 point percentage from 29% to 33%. His field goal percentage matches Durant’s first two years’ average, and he needs to shoot 35.5% from 3 this year to match Durant. Lonzo Ball’s continued improvement as a pass first point guard will help raise that average. Ingram is not as far off as I originally thought.
Ingram’s averages have increased every month this season, and will continue to increase where he will be averaging more than 20 PPG by the end of this season at the young age of 20 years old. A second year player still growing into his body figuring out how to play in this league and developing his arsenal of skills to match that of one of the most prolific scorers in this league has proven to fit the “untouchable” tag placed on him by his GM. Ingram is proving to be a player that the Lakers can build around for the future. The only question that remains is will he improve enough to attract free agents (LeBron, Paul George, Boogie Cousins) in 2018? Only time will tell, but he is on the right path.