You know the drill. We did this last year and the series lives on with updates for the 2016-17 Lakers’ roster. Next up in our series is Brandon Ingram’s playmaking ability. Enjoy.
When the Lakers ended up not only keeping their top-3 protected lottery pick, but staying put at #2, the collective celebration of Lakers’ fans was only a slight notch below some sort of massive playoff victory. The team had suffered through so many losses and the prospect of snagging a player the caliber of Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram made it all seem (at least somewhat) worth it.
Ingram, of course, became the pick and fans have been giddy with excitement and hope ever since. A SF prospect with a rare combination of size, length, and shooting ability, Ingram not only brings an intriguing skill set but fills a major long term need on the roster.
And while Ingram’s shooting ability and defensive potential offer the most long term upside for a roster sorely in need of both, this upcoming season the rookie might just help the team most with another facet of his game — his playmaking ability.
Ingram may not be the next level passer of Ben Simmons, but his skill as a distributor and setup man should not be overlooked. Ingram is not just a willing passer, but he has good court vision and a strong sense of how plays develop. This recognition — the ability to see a play unfold a beat ahead of real time — is a gift even if it is most often accompanied by execution of a “simple” play rather than some of the more dazzling and creative ones the league’s most dynamic playmakers exhibit.
The great part about Ingram’s playmaking is how he flashes the ability in a variety of play types and by making a slew of different passes. This one, for example, is a great kick-out pass off dribble penetration from the top of the floor:
Igram’s ability to get to the cup and draw multiple defenders is obviously the key part of that pass, but note also how he’s making that read to the opposite side after a hard drive to his left hand. Also, at first glance this pass looks to be off-target. But, in reality, Ingram passed into open space in order to avoid the defender and Russell did a good job of using his wide catch radius to gather and then get his shot off cleanly. (Side note: I love how Ingram relocates to the corner after his pass. Quite the instinctive move to make himself available for the return pass and a wide open three of his own if Russell decided to give it right back.)
This next pass is similar to the one above, but even more deft:
Again, Ingram drives hard to his left hand, beats his man off the dribble, and draws multiple defenders. Here, though, instead of kicking the ball cross-court, he makes a fantastic read in real time to deliver a drop pass to Ivica Zubac. Ingram’s headiness here really is great. When underneath the hoop he senses the defender vacating the restricted area to take away the pass to the corner. Rather than try to force it to his spot up shooter, Ingram makes the right read and executes with the right type of pass. A+ stuff.
Where Ingram might have the most potential as a playmaker is as a ball handler in the P&R. He flashed this ability at Duke and it looked to translate to summer league:
This isn’t some amazing read or pass, but it shows a keen understanding of how to work this action as a passer. Ingram knows his shooting ability will require his own defender to chase over the top and the hedge man to show up high to challenge a jumper or cut off his driving lane. Ingram beats this coverage easily with a bullet to the rolling Zubac for an easy dunk.
Ingram truly does have the full package offensively. While he will need to adjust to the deeper 3-point line he is showing an ability to hit that shot, he can post up smaller defenders, and he has enough of a handle to work in isolation or as a ball-handler in the P&R. These skills should translate well enough for him to be able to work as as spot up threat in the half court and when creating his own shot both in traditional sets or when the team gets out and runs in transition.
However, his passing and ability to get his teammates shots might end up being a skill which translates most quickly to the pro game. His court vision, sense of timing, and unselfishness as a passer were on full display in the summer and, considering he’ll almost always be flanked by teammates who do their best work as “finishers”, he should be plenty of opportunity to help them get theirs.
And based on the clips above, he should be ready to do just that.