Brandon Ingram isn’t off to the strongest offensive start to his NBA career. The Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent lottery pick has struggled to find any offensive consistency while missing 16 of his 21 shots through four preseason games.
Ingram might look every bit the skinny, 19-year old kid he is offensively, but he’s looked far more impressive on the other end of the floor. Players with a little more bulk are going to be able to push Ingram around a bit, but it’s fair to say his head coach has been mostly impressed with his effort on the defensive end.
Luke Walton told Serena Winters of Lakers Nation that Ingram’s “wiry strength” brought to mind his former teammate Trevor Ariza, and that’s not the only great defender he has recently compared Ingram to.
Walton made an appearance on Bleacher Report’s “Open Run” podcast, where he said he’s having Ingram try to learn from a “similar” player in his former player with the Golden State Warriors and college teammate, Andre Iguodala:
“With our young kid, Brandon Ingram, I pulled him up to the office yesterday, and I had our video guy pull 40 clips of Andre playing one-on-one defense, the way he mirrors the ball, because they have similar body types. The long arms, they’re skinny, but strong and athletic at the same time.
“So I just showed clip after clip of the way Andre defends one-on-one, because Brandon right now, at his young age, has a tendency to keep his hands down. In the NBA, you can’t do that. In college it works because people can’t score. At this level, if you have a hand down, like Mark Jackson says on his telecasts all the time, ‘hand down, man down.’ At this level, that’s going to be a bucket, so I just wanted him to see the visual, and I have the type of relationship that if he had questions about what Andre is doing, I’d feel comfortable calling Andre up and putting the two of them on the phone, and letting them talk.”
That process may already be underway. Ingram revealed in an appearance on “The Herd” last month that Iguodala has already been offering him advice, and even told him “he has the chance to be special on both offense and defense.”
The offense will come, but it’s fair to say there are already signs the defense could be here to some degree already. No one is going to mistake Ingram for Iguodala yet, but he’s helped the Lakers’ bench unit create an endless swarm of arms that’s generated stops and turnovers against over-matched opposing benches.
The Lakers’ opponents have scored just 83.9 points per 100 possessions so far while Ingram has been on the floor, and while that number will tick upward this season as the Lakers play better opponents/non-preseason games, it’s still an encouraging stat for those hoping Ingram can one day be the defensive stopper the Lakers have lacked for so long. Walton certainly seems to be doing his part to help him get there.
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