After LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last month, his arrival was followed by that of several well-known veterans, including Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley, who are all expected to come off the bench and provide depth for an otherwise youthful team. Contrary to what many had hoped for, the Lakers weren’t able to sign Paul George as a free agent, nor were they able to trade for Kawhi Leonard. But even without a second new superstar onboard, some people believe the Lakers already have a Scottie Pippen equivalent to LeBron’s Michael Jordan — incoming third-year forward Brandon Ingram.
Speaking on Tuesday’s episode of First Things First, Fox Sports‘ Chris Broussard said that people close to James believe the 20-year-old Ingram could play what he described as a “Scottie Pippen role” for the Lakers. This is a reference to the famous partnership Pippen had with Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, where both men combined to lead the team to six NBA championships in the 1990s. While Jordan was by far the top scorer on those Bulls teams and arguably their best defensive player, Pippen ably supported him at the small forward position, contributing on both ends of the floor and playing in seven All-Star Games, all as a member of the Bulls.
In its own analysis of Broussard’s comments, NESN posited that the Pippen comparisons are a bit of a stretch, but not completely far-fetched. As the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Brandon Ingram has made steady improvements and averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in his second year in the league. He also improved his shooting considerably in his last 22 games of the 2017-18 season, shooting an impressive 54 percent from the field and 51 percent from beyond the three-point line.
As further observed by NESN, Ingram also stood out as someone who could pass the ball and orchestrate plays, as evidenced by his occasional stints at point guard in lieu of an injured Lonzo Ball. There are, however, some holes in the former Duke product’s game, according to NESN — unlike Scottie Pippen, who was one of the NBA’s top defensive forwards in his heyday, Brandon Ingram has yet to prove effective as a stopper from the other end of the floor.
In addition to Ingram’s perceived deficiencies as a defender, Los Angeles Lakers-centric blog site Silver Screen and Roll noted that the young forward was not too efficient when creating offense in the pick-and-roll, as he only ranked in the 28th percentile in that area. The publication, however, described Ingram as a hard worker “with a solid head on his shoulders” who should continue to grow as a player while improving in all facets of the game.