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Brandon Ingram’s shooting struggles mask his long-term scoring potential for the Lakers

Once the rookie learns to convert more of his looks around the rim, he’s going to be a great scorer.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Ingram did not shoot well against the Golden State Warriors. A cursory look at the Los Angeles Lakers’ second overall pick’s 3-18 line would make that much obvious. What just looking at that part of the stat sheet would overlook, however, was the context for that line.

In just his second NBA start (with both of them coming against arguably the best team of the league) while missing three normal starters, the circumstances were not exactly ideal for Ingram to have a breakout game. Despite that, Ingram continued to show great instincts that, coupled with a bit more strength and more fundamentally sound finishes, promise to make him a special player for the Lakers.

The most promising takeaway from Ingram’s effort against the Warriors was how he didn’t back down. It would be easy for a 19-year old to get discouraged while missing so many shots, but Ingram continued to attack and is obviously a student of the Michael Scott/Wayne Gretzky adage about missing 100 percent of the shots one doesn’t take.

“I missed a couple shots that I can make, but overall I was aggressive,” Ingram said. “Being more aggressive makes me a better player on the floor, just playmaking for myself and playmaking for other guys on the team.”

Ingram certainly made plays for himself against the Warriors, but one issue he had (and a theme all season), has been inefficient finishing around the basket. Ingram is shooting just 43.9 percent at the rim, and was much worse than that against the Warriors (14.3 percent).

Those misses aside, Ingram’s length and ball-handling ability is going to allow him to get good looks right at the cup, and once he bulks up a bit and starts to find a rhythm, these are going to be great shots:

Once Ingram starts finishing like this more consistently, he’s going to be a problem:

And while Ingram’s shot may not have been falling, his coach still approves of the one’s he’s taking.

“When we looked at the stat sheet closer at halftime I thought Brandon played a really solid first half. He was 1-10, but just from watching the flow of the game and how he was being aggressive, looking to attack the paint and score I thought he played well.” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton.

Ingram’s finishing around the rim is the main area of his repertoire he needs to improve in order to become an efficient scorer. He has plenty of time to do so, and not even Kevin Durant (the player he’s most often given starry eyed comparisons too) was great at the basket right out of the gates as a rookie:

Durant’s percentages there are better than Ingram’s, and Ingram is far from a sure bet to become as good as Durant. However, when his jumper is dropping he does show teases of the potential he holds to be a truly dynamic bucket-getter in his own right:

The good news for the Lakers is that Ingram will likely start to finish more consistently around the basket with a bit more experience and strength, which will in turn give him more space to improve his jumper. The better news for the Lakers is that he is already finding plenty of other ways to leverage his considerable length to affect the game.

The rookie swiped two steals against the Warriors, and most impressively, used his endless arms to swat a three-pointer from the player so many have compared him to:

"I just liked how he was engaged tonight. In the last couple of games he has been locked in,” Walton said of Ingram, and it’s hard to argue. Ingram might not be finishing a high percentage of his looks yet, but he’s taking the right kind of them. Once he makes the necessary adjustments, his potential extends as far as the arms that are going to allow him to shoot and finish over defenders with ease.

All stats per All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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