Will Brandon Ingram Win Rookie of the Year?

As the second pick in the 2016 draft and a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Ingram will have to deal with a lot of high expectations. In fact, Ingram is already being compared to NBA superstar Kevin Durant.

Both came into the league with a skinny frame, long wingspan, and diverse skillset. Both were number two draft picks. The similarities are definitely there, but it may take some time for Ingram to reach his full potential.

In Durant’s rookie year, he averaged 20.3 points and won ROTY. Like Durant, Ingram has expressed his desire to win the award.

“That’s something that is on my mind. All rookies want to win rookie of the year. That’s something that drives me.” – Ingram

Realistically, Ingram’s chances are slim. He will be coming off the bench for at least the start of the season, and he is playing with many ball dominant players. As a result, his touches and minutes will be less than that of a certain rookie.

Ben Simmons is the obvious favorite to win ROTY. He is going start on an awful Sixers team and will immediately be handed the keys to the offense. Simmons stats will be inflated, whereas Ingram’s won’t.

Ingram still has a chance however. Ingram is more NBA ready than most rookies, Simmons included. He may even eventually start later in the season, or even just be a force off the bench similar to Ben Gordon is rookie year.

Time will tell which rookie will win the award. My money is on Simmons, but I am rooting for Ingram.

D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson

Over the past few years, the NBA has undergone major changes. Teams are more reliant on the three point shot and the center position is becoming obsolete. But has the NBA evolved enough that a team can have success with two point guards on the court?

The Phoenix Suns have been rocking a two-point guard backcourt for some time. Their last playoff appearance was in 2010.

Currently, the Lakers are starting both point guards D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, and both look to be apart of the Lakers’ long-term plans. It remains to be seen if this will be a successful backcourt.

The most successful dual point guard system was that of the ’89 Pistons team that won a ring. Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas averaged a combined 14 assists a game and led one of the best defensive teams the NBA has seen. Dumars and Thomas were talented players whose talents complimented one another. Dumars was an excellent 3-point shooter. Thomas was an aggressive slasher. Their strengths fit one another.

Similarly, Russell has proven to be an excellent perimeter shooter and Clarkson attacks the rim more times than not. In fact, both are looking to expand their game. Numerous videos of Clarkson knocking down threes have emerged and Russell has shown us a variety of post moves in Summer League. Both are talented players, who over time will develop a strong chemistry that will help them coexist together on offensive end.

However, unlike Dumars and Thomas, Clarkson and Russell are not known for their defensive prowess. The Lakers were close to last in most defensive categories and part of the blame falls on the two point guards. If the two wish to succeed on the court together, then they will have to become much better defenders.

Fortunately, they have the tools to improve. Both are tall for the point guard position and can learn a lot from veteran Luol Deng, who is known for his defense.

Having two point guards on the floor has its benefits and history has shown us it can be successful. The key for D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson coexisting lies not only within how good defenders they will become but also their chemistry and ability to play to each others strengths.

Is Anthony Brown Worth the Trouble?

At the 2016 Summer League, several Lakers players shined, from coveted rookie Brandon Ingram to fan favorite Zubac. One player however, Anthony Brown, did not play up to expectations.

During his days at Stanford, Brown was an excellent three-point shooter, shooting 44% from behind the arc his senior year. However, his NBA rookie year he shot a mere 29% from trey, leaving fans wondering if he is deserving of a roster spot.

In today’s NBA, 3 and D players are coveted highly. Danny Green and Andre Iguodala are both valuable contributors to contending teams and are primarily known for their great defense and three-point shooting.

Brown has definitely shown he has the potential to be an excellent perimeter defender. In the Laker’s first Summer League Game, Brown held talented prospect Buddy Hield to 25% from the field. Yet Brown knows that’s not enough.

“Make more shots; that’s the number one thing. If i do that, I’ll probably get on the court. But without that, I probably won’t get on the court.” -Anthony Brown

Brown has the potential to be a serviceable player for the Lakers in the future, but it may take some time for Brown to reach his full potential. Before he was the league’s best 3 and D player, Danny Green was cut by two teams within two months and even contemplated playing overseas.

Green’s path to where he is now was a gradual process, and it is more than likely so will Anthony Brown’s.

Brown has a very cap-friendly contract and has shown he has the potential to be a useful rotation player. At the very least, Brown can be a defensive specialist off the bench. But if Brown were to pan out, he could be a great role player.

Anthony Brown is definitely worth the trouble.

What to Expect from the Lakers this Season

The 2015-2016 season was the worst season ever by a Lakers team. Finishing with 17 wins, the Lakers did not look like a franchise that has won 16 championships. A combination of on court inefficiencies, locker room tensions, and poor coaching led to a very disappointing season.

However, thanks to numerous changes made by the front office, Lakers fans have reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season.

The biggest reason for that optimism is the Lakers young core. Youngsters D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, and fan favorite Ivica Zubac shined in the summer league. They gave fans a glimpse of what is in store for the future with their impressive play. Other notable young Lakers players are Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle who showed last season that they have the potential to be great NBA players.

It will definitely be exciting to see how much they have improved since last season and summer league.

As with all young teams, there will be head scratching moments and bumps along the way. It is for this reason that the acquisitions of veteran players like Jose Calderon and Luol Deng are important. A strong veteran presence was lacking in the Lakers locker room last year, and it showed as the Lakers blew leads and at times just looked lost. Calderon and Deng are talented players who will not only help the team win games but also be leaders and guide the younger players on and off the court.

The most important change from last year that should have every fan excited is the addition of Luke Walton. The players are already raving about how much fun it is to play under Walton.

“The big change that I’ve seen from this year to last year is: this year they want to come to practice. They want to play the games. Everybody, Larry Nance, D’Angelo, Anthony Brown, the words that they keep saying to me is like, ‘I love basketball again. I love basketball. I want to come here. I want to play.’ They want to get on the court. They’re having fun. That’s the most important part. They’re actually enjoying themselves, even at practice.” – Lakers trainer Marco Nunez.

Luke has shown that he is a capable coach, going 39-4 as an interim coach for the Warriors, and he is familiar with the pressures and expectations that come with being a Laker. He is the perfect coach for this young Lakers team and is a definite improvement over Byron Scott.

Last season, the Lakers were close to being last in almost every category from defensive efficiency to three-point percentage. While it is more than likely they will still have problems, a new coach, talented veterans, and a year of positive progression for the young players will definitely improve the team.

Prediction: 32-50

 

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