The Los Angeles Lakers have their team of young players, but one, in particular, will help usher in a new era of Lakers basketball, Brandon Ingram. Ingram was selected by the Lakers with the 2nd overall pick in the draft, and while many thought that Ben Simmons might have been the better selection, they couldn’t be more incorrect.
The Lakers were not in the market for a ball hog, a PG or a power player, what they needed was an all-around talent that could mesh well with their current roster of youthful, yet versatile players. Simmons was not the guy, not that they had a chance but if they were fortunate enough to pick 1st, Ingram would’ve been the right selection.
The world is sold on Simmons being that guy for the Philadelphia 76ers and has all but penciled him in as the ROY winner, but not so fast there voters. While Simmons will get plenty of chances with a rebuilding team in Philly the Lakers will give Ingram all the opportunities to be the better player.
Before everyone gets caught up in this Summer League hype, just call it what it is, a few games of free-flowing offense where it’s nothing important but to see where your stamina is. If that’s the case, then the Lakers should look forward to Russell scoring 22 a night as he did in the Las Vegas League. Ingram struggled from the field but so did Simmons but to expect both to continue that trend into the regular season is fools gold.
Simmons will have the better chance at ROY; the 76ers have few offensive weapons that will take shots away from him. Simmons will average at least 35 minutes per night, 16 FG attempts on a team that needs his scoring. Ingram, however, may get a modest 25 minutes per with an average of 10 shots per game. Those stats alone will make Simmons the easy choice but, it’s never that easy.
Here is why Ingram will win the award.
The Lakers are a marquee team, larger following and are built to win now, unlike the 76ers. While Simmons will be jacking up shots left and right, Ingram will be learning and winning. Those minutes that we just talked about will work in his favor. Simmons is not the best player out of the two; he just happened to play on the worst college team than Ingram did which made his exposure a little brighter as he was forced to be Mr. Everything. Ingram played on a TEAM but he wasn’t compelled to do everything, it just came naturally.
Ingram will play behind Luol Deng, and while Deng is still a contributor the Lakers will make a move by the All-Star break to either trade Deng or have him in a reserve role. Ingram was not taken with the 2nd pick to ride the pine his entire rookie season and the fewer minutes he will play the first half of the year will benefit him after the break.
Simmons will hit the rookie wall, most players with his limited skill-set always does, and that’s when Ingram will make his move. On the court Ingram is a threat from the perimeter, he can put the ball on the floor and create his shot, while both players can hit the glass neither will be required to on their respective NBA teams. Another area Simmons will struggle is the lane. The 76ers are loaded in the frontcourt with Okafor, Embiid, and Noel, which offers no room for Simmons to operate on the low blocks. He must work on his perimeter game to be successful in this league just as LeBron had to do.
Ingram will not enter the season with a clear advantage, but he will end it with one.