Brandon Ingram has not been a perfect fit for the new-look Los Angeles Lakers. If they look to deal him, the Portland Trail Blazers could make a push.
While the Los Angeles Lakers as a team have gotten off to a hot start, Brandon Ingram has not. This is not to say that Ingram, at 21-years-old, is not as strikingly talented as he was when he was 19. But it is to say that there may be a fit problem between him and LeBron James. If the Lakers continue playing better without Ingram, they may look to deal him for a piece that will help them win now. The Portland Trail Blazers have been floated as a possible team to trade for the third year pro.
In an article for Bleacher Report, Eric Pincus describes Ingram’s issues this season alongside LeBron. While his 15.2 points, four rebounds, and 2.2 assists remain respectable, he has not made the strides or adjustments the Lakers would’ve hoped.
When playing with James, teammates must be creating space for him to put constant pressure on defenses with his decision-making. Where guys like Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart move more freely without the ball, Ingram requires more control over a possession to be effective – otherwise, he has the tendency to disappear. With Ingram in the regular starting lineup, the Lakers post an offensive rating of 103.1 points per 100 possessions; with Hart in his place, this number jumps to 110 points per 100 possessions.
Still, this is not at all to say Ingram couldn’t be more effective in a different situation – one where he gets more opportunities to handle the ball. Luke Walton always wanted Ingram to be an oversized point guard and saw his most potent role to be as a facilitator. LeBron’s presence limits Ingram’s reps in this role.
If the Lakers become impatient and figure Ingram will not fit with LeBron, they may look to deal him for win-now talent. While all indications show that James wants to be patient with this franchise, his patience may wear thin if the Lakers are hanging onto an eighth seed come February.
The Portland Trail Blazers could be in the running to trade for a player like Ingram and give the Lakers what they want. Much will depend on the Blazers’ situation in February.
If it’s all systems go, and the Blazers look to be headed for home-court in the first round, then there’s no reason to go out shopping for Ingram. If a darker situation hits Portland though, they may be in line to hit a semi-reset button. That’s where Ingram could fit into a Blazers timeline.
What Ingram could give the Blazers:
Brandon Ingram gives the Blazers a new young player with proven talent to potentially build around and pair alongside Damian Lillard.
He is ultra long and can defend using this length. He can run an offense well and has a natural feel for the game when he is on the ball. He will need to improve his three-point shooting to be a truly lethal offensive threat. But ultimately, at 21-years-old, he could give the Blazers tons of flexibility in the future past this year.
He is a guy who could reach the incredibly high ceiling placed onto him when he was drafted second overall, or he could never acquiesce to anything more than what he is now. And while the Blazers would only be guaranteed to have him through this year and next year, this is the same amount of time they will have Damian Lillard. If the fit works, there’s reason for them to re-up together; if it doesn’t, well…
With Ingram, the Blazers would likely need severely limit Evan Turner‘s minutes as the backup point guard as I feel Ingram would be best suited to take a lot of these opportunities. I think Head Coach Terry Stotts’s best bet with Lillard and Ingram would be to stagger their minutes.
The Blazers would then retain more explosiveness and playmaking ability at their facilitator spot throughout the game. If Ingram could improve his three-point shooting, he and Lillard could play together more harmoniously, but if Lillard could find places to give Ingram times to play point – like he does when ET checks into games – a chemistry may develop.
Here are three trades that could land Brandon Ingram should the Blazers feel they need to target him.