Lakers forward Brandon Ingram is playing some of the best basketball of his professional career, if not the best basketball of his professional career.
Over his last 30 games for the Lakers, Ingram is averaging 19.7 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting from the field, along with 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. In other words, he’s been good for a little while now.
His latest scoring outburst came on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, where he scored 23 points on 8-14 shooting from the field, and made 7 of his 10 free-throw attempts. Over his last 15 games, Ingram is converting 74.5 percent of his free-throw attempts.
Following the Lakers’ win over New Orleans, head coach Luke Walton said that he’s been impressed with not just how much Ingram has been scoring, but the way he’s been scoring.
“He’s doing it more consistently. I think he’s done a nice job of cleaning up some of the shots that we don’t prefer that he takes, some of the isolation, mid-range pull-ups without moving it. He had a couple of them tonight, but for the most part I think he’s continued to grow as a player,” Walton said.
“He’s grown more confident and got more comfortable getting to his spots and shooting the shots that he works on in practice all the time. We see him play like this all the time during practice, so it’s just a matter of time.”
Ingram’s shot selection has played a big role in the impressive scoring run he’s on, particularly the shots he’s getting at the rim. According to NBA.com, Ingram is converting 68.2 percent of the shots he’s taken within less than 10 feet of the basket, which is where 48.9 percent of his attempts have come from.
When he isn’t making his shots at the rim, he’s unfurling his arms to draw contact and get to the free-throw line. Over the last 15 games, only Paul George is drawing more fouls per game than Ingram.
Ingram has never shied away from drawing contact at the rim, but now he says he has the confidence to make his free-throws.
“The closer I get to the rim, I think my percentages go up so I’m just trying to find a way to the rim, find a way to be aggressive and either draw a foul or get over the top. If I draw a foul I’m confident to know I can knock the free throws down,” Ingram said.
However, despite his recent improvement as a shooter, Ingram said he’s doing the same things he’s been doing all season.
“I think I’m just making more shots. I’m still getting to the same spots and still getting downhill. I wasn’t happy about tonight, I had some missed shots and some free throws that I missed,” Ingram said. “I’ll continue to just try and be aggressive in all ways and try to use some of the mismatches to my advantage.”
If the Lakers are going to earn one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference, they’re going to need Ingram to play at the same level he’s been playing at for the past several weeks. Luckily, it doesn’t look like this iteration of Ingram is going anywhere any time soon.