“The Lakers’ future resides on their previous two lottery picks in Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell. They were both selected at second in their respective draft class. There is no secret that Ingram and Russell have high expectations to perform well and succeed on the basketball court. They are replacing a franchise player in Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers desperately need talented players on their team and Luke Walton believes that Ingram and Russell are able fit that role. In an interview with Jim Rome, Walton had high praises for his lottery picks, a tune unfamiliar with most Lakers’ fan considering who coached the team last year.
Walton loves Ingram’s versatility and leadership. Ingram is listed as a small forward, but that won’t be the only position he plays for Los Angeles.
I envision him playing multiple spots,” Walton said “ Even bringing the ball up if we want to run D’Angelo [Russell] or whoever off of ball screens, let him run the point spot of offense.”
Ingram is a multi-talented player. He can create his own shot and is a pretty decent playmaker. Last year, the Lakers’ lacked depth and talent, so there was a lot of pressure on Russell and the guards to initiate a stagnant offense. Ingram can help alleviate that burden with his ball handling skills and basketball IQ.
While Ingram is projected a great offensive player, his 7’3’’ wingspan could turn him into a defensive specialist.
“With his wingspan, and what it seems like on tape, his feel for the game, what that would allow us to do on the defensive end, which we need a lot of help on from last year, just blocking shots, and getting out in transition after steals and running,” Walton said. “Players like him can help the team in every area.”
It is no question that the Lakers were abysmal on defense last year, ranking 27th in the league in overall defense. Ingram’s versatility on that end would be key for the Lakers’, with his wingspan allowing him to disrupt opposing players. If Ingram can get stronger during the offseason, he could guard up to four positions similar to what Draymond Green does for Golden State.
Under Byron Scott, D’Angelo Russell was treated with an old school tough-love style approach. Scott refused to give Russell any freedom; instead, the former sent the latter to the bench for most of the year. Luke, however, did not shy away from praising his young point guard.
“I think he had a pretty successful rookie season,” Walton said. “This is a grown man’s league and to come in as young as he was and be able to show glimpses of the type of player he is, I think it’s pretty impressive.”
However, Walton also notes that the 20-year old will be entering just his second year in the league, and still has a lot of room for improvement.
“We need him to get better defensively,” Walton said.” Watching tape, his shot selection, I think, needs to be better, but I think that will get better, and I think all these things will get better.”
It’s a comforting feeling every time Walton speaks about the Lakers. There is a certain confidence and reassurance that Lakers’ fans feel having a young and bright coach talk about the future of the team. Walton had a successful run as a Warriors’ assistant coach; it will be an interesting test to see if he can do the same for the Lakers. So far, he is off to a good start.