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Brandon Ingram thinks his fit with LeBron James will be a lot better in 20 games or so

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LeBron James and Brandon Ingram haven’t been a seamless in their first Lakers season together, but Ingram thinks that long-term he and James can make it work.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When LeBron James isn’t on the floor for the Lakers, Brandon Ingram has basically been an NBA All-Star this season.

Don’t believe me? Here are Ingram’s averages with James on the floor vs. when James isn’t, per-36 minutes:

Brandon Ingram per-36 minutes

On or Off Points FG% 3-point % Free-throw attempts Assists Rebounds
On or Off Points FG% 3-point % Free-throw attempts Assists Rebounds
Ingram with LeBron 15.4 44.3 19.2 4.9 1.9 4.3
Ingram without LeBron 27.7 54.5 75 7.2 5.1 6.3
via NBA.com

Ingram has played 494 minutes with James on the floor and 121 without him, and so while some of the above statistical disparity may be a flukey result of small sample-size, the Lakers should also probably be doing more to figure out just how real that type of play is by staggering Ingram and James a bit more.

Still, Ingram isn’t going to be long for the Lakers if he can’t play with James at least a little bit, something NBA executives have enjoyed publicly musing about behind a veil of anonymity. And during a recent “Lakers Voices” chat with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, Ingram was brutally honest in assessing how hard his fit with James has been so far:

“It’s been an adjustment,” Ingram said. “Just because we’re both so ball-dominant. He can pass the ball, I can pass the basketball, he can drive the basketball, he’s a lot stronger on the finish. He can shoot the three, he can shoot the mid-range, he can do pretty much everything on the basketball floor. I think as the games continue, that’s what’s going to help a lot because we can get a connection.

“We can get a connection of when somebody is going to cut, where exactly is he going to be when I drive the basketball, and where am I going to be when he drives the basketball. That’s something that as the games continue and as we continue to talk, there’s going to be some connectivity.”

Once that “connectivity” Ingram references starts to take shape, he also thinks that he and James’ fit will look a lot cleaner:

“I think in 20 games it’s going to be good. It’s going to be a lot better,” Ingram said

Ingram is probably right about that, if only because pairing two ball-dominant wings has rarely been easy, historically. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have skewed the way we view such a fit, and things are only so seamless for those two players because they’re two of the best shooters ever. James has gotten a lot better from behind the arc, but he and Ingram aren’t on that level yet.

Because of that reality — and Ingram seeing himself as a go-to player — the Lakers have looked iffy when he and James share the floor, while Ingram looks free to take control when James sits.

The problem is, James is the new star that this team orbits around, and so Ingram is going to have to find more ways to be effective as a complementary option if he wants to stick long-term. To Ingram’s credit, it sounds like he understands that, so when he returns from injury (likely later this week) maybe he and James can renew their quest for cohesion. Until they find it, though, Lakers head coach Luke Walton would probably do well to split up their playing time more than he has, for the sake of both Ingram’s long-term value and development, as well as to aid the Lakers in finding near-term success.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.