Brandon Ingram has always been a hard player to find a historical comparison for. Before the Los Angeles Lakers drafted him second overall in 2016, the lazy comp that everyone made was Kevin Durant, simply because Ingram was similarly skinny.
But Ingram is not Durant, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean he’ll be a bad player, it just means he likely won’t be one of the best scorers in NBA history.
Which, again, is fine.
Still, it leaves our dumb brains with the same problem they started with: Trying to find a comparison so that we can categorize Ingram, and three years in, we really aren’t that much closer.
That’s what made Ingram’s thoughts on the matter so interesting. In a sit-down with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com on “Lakers Voices,” Ingram was asked which NBA star he imitated on the playground the most growing up, and he had an interesting answer:
”Well everybody said Kobe. The fadeaway from Kobe. I think that was it. I mean, my favorite player was Kevin Durant, but I don’t think I ever just tried to go out and imitate him. I think it was always Kobe.”
Now let’s get this out of the way: Ingram isn’t Kobe, either. And if you look at the three players’ stats through their third season (Ingram hasn’t completed his yet, obviously), Bryant and Durant were clearly a bit ahead of where Ingram is, production-wise:
Kobe-KD-Ingram Through Year Three Per-36
But while Ingram undeniably isn’t Bryant or Durant, his offensive game this season has sort of answered a question that no one was asking: “What if a young Durant had Bryant’s shot selection while playing alongside LeBron James?”
To be clear, that’s oversimplifying things a bit, but the pseudo-answer hasn’t been pretty, per NBA.com:
Ingram is taking his second-most shots from the area he’s been the worst at high-volume early this season. That’s not great. The hatred the mid-range game gets online — like many things online — is overdramatic, but unless they’re Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge or some other historically solid mid-range shooter, it’s definitely not a place a player on a non-tanking team should be taking their second-most shots from.
Ingram has spoken about how he knows he needs to take more threes, so maybe progress is coming over the next several games when he returns from his ankle injury. Until then, it will continue to be hard to find a historical comparison for him, no matter who he grew up emulating.