The Thomas & Mack Arena was jammed pack for the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers summer league opener. The atmosphere felt like a regular season game, the fans cheered as the previous game was ending, and they were all here to see Lonzo Ball but it was Brandon Ingram who put on a show for Laker fans. Showing what he had been working on since the season ended and it didn’t disappoint.
Of course, there were a few issues like the five turnovers and only one rebound in 31 minutes of play. These are two areas he’ll need to improve on as he evolves into a complete player.
Ingram started his rookie campaign a bit slowly but gradually improved as the season went on. His less than exciting rookie season has made this off-season’s develop a critical one and Ingram is showing what made him the number two pick in the 2016 draft.
First Ingram faced up his defender on the left side of the court, hit him with a jab step (a fake step in a direction to get the defense to react) to the middle and blew right by the defense to finish a nice reverse layup. Then the ball was entered into the post on the right side of the court, he faced up his defender again, and drove middle using his long stride to get to the rim. He then flashed a Kobe-like baseline fadeaway from the post. Ingram is displaying his improved ball handling and ability to score off the dribble that was not there last season.
Ingram also made several defensive plays in this summer league game, finishing with 3 steals and 2 blocks. When the Clippers ran a Pick-and-Roll, it looked like the roll man had an easy lane but Ingram came in from the weakside to intercept the pass and put the Lakers in transition. Later in the game, he got hit with a screen and instead of giving up on the play he tracked backed and blocked the shot from behind. After turning the ball over, Ingram doesn’t sulk, he sprints back on defense and is able to get his hand on the ball as he dove out of bounds.
The biggest thing is what Ingram did when the game was online. With the Lakers down two, he used his length to deflect the pass and then dove on the ball to gain the possession for the Lakers. On the offensive end, at the top of the three-point line, he used a hesitation left to right crossover to get his defender off balance just enough to create a seam for him to get to the lane and tie the game. These are winning plays, these are the types of plays Laker fans want to see from one of their core members.
Famous college basketball coach Al Maguire is known to have said “The best part of Freshman is that they become Sophomores”, this is the kind of improvement the Lakers want to see from their sophomore Ingram. He looks struggle and is able to finish with contact, breaking defenses off the dribble and showing improvement on defense. Game one of this year’s summer league was a success for Ingram. The gym was packed with Laker fans, nearly all came to see Lonzo Ball but it was Ingram who stole the show.
- Ball Struggles – No one will ever accuse Laker fans of overreacting, EVER! The dream scenario would have been for Ball to come in and hit the ground running. Everyone needs to be patient, it’s just one game, he’s going to have nights like this in the league. Everyone does. Although he didn’t shoot the ball well, he showed his excellent court vision often outleting the ball with kick-ahead baskets. He will catch defenses sleeping after free throws if they do not pay attention to the guys running behind them. Laker players better keep their head on a swivel or risk getting smacked in the head.
- Fox Impresses – De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings was all over the place in his summer league debut. He finished with 18 points, 5 steals, 4 assists, and 1 turnover. He was able to use his speed to get in the lane for his 18 points but he’ll have to develop a deep ball as he missed all three of his attempts.
- Brandon Ingram’s Extra work is paying off
- ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wrote about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Ball’s debut
- Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images