Brandon vs. Lonzo (and Kawhi Leonard)

This is a non-statistical analysis of why the Lakers should keep Brandon Ingram over the other members of their "young core," regardless of whom they might get back in trade. I believe Ingram will be a top-ten player in this league in 2-3 years max. The Lakers need to hold onto him despite these trade temptations.

In my opinion, the single most important predictor of success (in any field) is work ethic. There are many more talented people in life and in the NBA than there are successful people. Ingram combines skill, talent, intelligence, hyper-competitiveness, AND a single-minded work ethic dedicated to being the best basketball player he can be. That combination is very rare. It’s why I don’t care about his statistics when I tout him. If he keeps as focused as he’s been, Ingram WILL be great.

Lonzo OTOH is a basketball genius. He sees the game as few ever have. And that’s his problem – everything comes too easy for him. He’s never had to learn pick-and-roll and other basketball niceties. He seems to divert time and attention from basketball to other pursuits because he can. Rapping, social media, and brand-building are on par with his profession. As a Laker fan, that troubles me. He a brilliant basketball player who could become great if he cares enough to dedicate himself. Will he?

My conclusion: if Lonzo doesn’t show enough in this "most important summer" of his life, he’s trade bait. Even a half-dedicated Lonzo will be a very, very good player in the league, and I’d be delighted if he stays a Laker. But if you can land a superstar in exchange, the Lakers might want to trade him – certainly before you trade Ingram. (I prefer to trade for AD, not KL, but that's just me.)

As for Kawhi, I wouldn’t give more than Hart, Zubac and picks. Another wing on a wing-laden team doesn’t move the needle for me. Even if KL is (currently) better than Ingram, the difference is rapidly closing. Hart and Zubac are Spurs-type players. If Lakers are outbid, they’re outbid. But whatever the Lakers choose to do, I hope they do not offer Ingram. They will regret it.

And to Bill Plaschke, yes, Ingram will be better than the over-hyped, over-valued Ben Simmons. It’s not Simmons’ (lack of) shooting that’s his problem, it’s his lack of heart. While Ingram was leading a mediocre Duke team (by their standards) to the Sweet Sixteen (averaging 23 points per game, well above his season average), Simmons couldn’t lead his team to the tournament at all. He and his teammate Fultz are the only two number one overall picks in history to fail to do so while playing for a tournament-qualified team. Philly apparently doesn’t consider character an important player attribute….

Go Lakers. Keep Ingram.