NBA fans, analysts, and league personnel don’t always compare Brandon Ingram to other players, but when they do, it’s to Kevin Durant. It’s easy to see why. Both are skeletal scorers with arms as long as the last hour of a workday, with the shooting touch and ball handling abilities of much shorter players.
It turns out the aesthetic similarities may have been intentional.
“I try to compare my game and pattern it after [Durant],” Ingram told Mark Medina of the O.C. Register in a recent feature on the two players. That being said, Ingram also knows he can’t simply be Durant.
“At the end of the day, I want to be Brandon Ingram,” Ingram told Medina. “When I grew up, I always wanted to be just like him. But I think the comparison is beyond my years. The comparison is more when he came into the league.”
Ingram isn’t even quite where Durant was when he entered the NBA. He’s has shown glimpses of his full potential so far during his short NBA career, but he’s a far cry from being as ready for the league as Durant was when he came in.
Ingram is averaging five points on 41.7 percent shooting while coming off of the bench in the first five games of his careeer. While Durant was far from perfect when he made his NBA debut, he still averaged 20.3 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting to go with 4.4 rebounds and one steal while playing out of position at shooting guard for most of his first season.
The two forwards’ shot charts tell more of the story:
While Ingram has shot better at the rim on a dramatically small sample size, Durant got there 33.8 percent of the time compared to Ingram’s 20.8 percent. Some of that can be chalked up to small sample size as well, but it also highlights that Ingram is just not as gifted of a scorer as Durant was when he first came into the league. That’s okay, because literally almost no player other than Durant ever has been.
Does that mean Ingram can never reach Durant’s heights? Of course not. It’s unlikely he ever reaches Durant’s heights as a player if only because Durant is one of the best players ever, but Ingram has the potential to become a dynamic scorer in the NBA one day. He has also already shown flashes of playmaking skill when head coach Luke Walton has used him off of the bench as a point guard.
The Lakers have a stud on their hands, it’s just not clear when he’ll be ready to contribute at a high level every single night. It’s also unclear if he’ll ever get his wish of being known as just Brandon Ingram, instead of that guy whose game kind of looks like Kevin Durant.
For more on the comparison between Ingram and Durant, Medina’s entire feature is worth a read.
All stats and shot charts courtesy of NBA.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.