Former No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram will start at point guard for the Los Angeles with LeBron James, Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo all injured.
The 6-foot-9 forward has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and is not exactly built like a typical ball-handler. But with the Lakers especially thin at backcourt depth, the 21-year-old will be an interesting fit, stepping into the role that he has some experience playing.
Here is what he told Tania Ganguli in December 2016 (via Los Angeles Times):
“I played [point guard in] youth basketball, AAU basketball. When I was in high school I played point guard. Since high school I didn’t play point guard until I got here. When I started growing I still used my guard skills a lot. … My college coaches [at Duke], they always put me at the right position to continue to use my guard skills as I grew taller, and it helped me in the long run.”
Ingram has an assist percentage (12.9 percent) that ranks not-too-shabby in the 69th percentile of all wings, per Cleaning the Glass. And it’s worth noting that when Ingram has appeared on the court without James, Ball and Rondo this season for 187 minutes, his assist percentage (20.8 percent) has been even more impressive.
The major problem with Ingram at point guard is his assist-to-turnover ratio, though. He has 26 assists and 20 turnovers (assist to turnover rate: 1.3) when playing without James, Ball and Rondo. That is below league average (1.7) thus far and he he needs to do a better job taking care of the ball.
As a long-term solution, it’s hard to imagine Ingram can be taken seriously as a point guard due to his struggles as the primary ball-handler in the pick-and-roll over the past three seasons. It’s something the team has been more than willing to try, however, despite relatively poor results.
When he was a rookie, including passes, Ingram averaged 0.76 points per possession (17th percentile) on pick-and-rolls. The wing then averaged 0.85 points per possession (28th percentile) on this play type last season. But this season, that has dropped to 0.82 points per possession (26th percentile) as the primary ball-handler in the pick-and-roll.
Expect the Lakers to run Ingram more often in transition, considering he has done well in these scenarios. Including passes, he averaged 1.50 points per possession (82nd percentile) when pushing the ball in transition last season.
Only the Sacramento Kings (21.0 percent frequency) have run in transition more often than Los Angeles has (20.2 percent frequency) this year. This will help Ingram during the scenarios he is tasked with running point.
These reps could be important for his overall development. While it may not be the best scenario to win games, it’s not like the situation will necessarily inevitably end in disaster until James, Rondo or Ball return from injury.