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Lakers were reportedly higher on Brandon Ingram last year than anyone in 2017 NBA Draft class

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Yes, who you’re thinking about included.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Ingram will enter next season either as old or just a hair older than the vast majority of those who will be selected in next month’s NBA draft. He’s also coming off a rookie season that went better than you probably think.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, to find out (via Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding) that the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office held him in higher regard a year ago than they currently hold any of the prospects who could be available to them with their recently-secured second overall pick.

Now, it’s also worth pointing out that this is a very different front office than the one that selected Ingram second a year ago. Neither Magic Johnson nor Rob Pelinka were involved in the scouting process that led to Ingram.

Since their arrival, they have also thoroughly revitalized the organization, including the various levels of the scouting department (with a few carrying over, obviously).

So with that as context, here’s how Ding puts his Ingram report:

The Lakers were higher on Ingram last year than they are on anyone this year right now. That's not to say that during predraft circuit, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka won't fall in love with Ball, Fox, Fultz or Jackson.

Given the context added above, let’s try to figure out what this report might mean.

Ding could be implying that carry-overs like Ryan West and Jesse Buss were higher on Ingram than they are on the likes of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball or any other prospects in this class.

He could also mean that the Lakers feel Ingram holds more value right now than anyone they could draft in a month. If that’s the case, the groundwork could be being laid for a trade featuring the pick as a centerpiece.

As Ding points out, their opinions of these prospects could change both in relation to each other and to Ingram over the next month as they get to meet and scout the guys up-close-and-personal.

Ingram’s potential is through the roof. It was true before he was drafted and remains true as he gets ready for his sophomore season. The Lakers loved him heading into last year’s draft and that doesn’t appear to have changed.