The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping for a big year from former No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram, who showed during the preseason why the organization is so excited about his development.
The 21-year-old has a remarkable 7-foot-3 wingspan, which he uses to his advantage on scoring opportunities. Pete Zayas published an insightful look into how the 6-foot-9 wing has been able to use his long strides in order to score effectively at the rim.
According to Zayas, the young star can continue to improve if he changes his footwork.
If Ingram is more willing to initiate and absorb contact from defenders, he can be more effective and efficient. Zayas predicts that Ingram will convert more and-one opportunities as he grows into his body, and adds strength and muscle to his impressive frame.
Ingram, as advised by Magic Johnson, has echoed these sentiments (via Los Angeles Times):
“Magic told me [to] run into the contact [and focus on] finishing above the rim. So I am just taking that and trying to use my length to the best of my ability, use the strength that I have to the best of my ability.”
This is a key focus for Ingram as he tries to take his game to the next level alongside LeBron James during his third season in the NBA.
Ingram made 58.8 percent of his field goal attempts at the rim when he was a freshman at Duke, per Hoop-Math.com. But just 24.6 percent of his attempts were at the rim.
According to Cleaning the Glass, his accuracy from this zone was nearly identical (58.0 percent) during his rookie campaign with the Lakers. Even though he faced tougher professional defenders, he increased his frequency of attempts in this zone to 34 percent.
He then took another leap last season and increased his accuracy in this zone to 62 percent. And once more, he relied on scoring at the rim far more often (45 percent of the time). Ingram connected on more field goals within five feet of the basket per game (3.5) than all second-year players except Joel Embiid.
Ingram connected on 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) of his shots from within the restricted area during the preseason. While it’s still a bit of a small sample size, 42.1 percent of his attempts during the five exhibition games were taken in this zone.
When attacking the basket, Ingram is drawing free throws more often as well. He was fouled on 12.6 percent of his shot attempts as a rookie, but increased that rate to 15.2 percent last season. That ranked in the 95th percentile among all wings, per Cleaning the Glass.
He led all players in the preseason with 40 free throw attempts, which helped him add points to the board each game for Los Angeles. The 21-year-old was fouled on 21.8 percent of his offensive possessions, per Synergy Sports. This shattered his career-high from last season, which was already one of the best percentages in the NBA.
Ingram was 15-of-17 from the free throw during his final preseason game this offseason. While it’s unlikely that he’ll repeat that performance, especially considering his previous best as a professional was just eight made free throws in a game, it’s clear that he is more eager to attack the basket than ever. If he is going to be the celebrated player many expect, this will be an important part of his development.