Ever since the Los Angeles Lakers started the season 10-10, they have struggled mightily, going 7-26 since. The team has dealt with a number of injuries since their surprising start to the year, but the crash back to reality seemed inevitable with so much youth in the rotation.
As the playoff talk cools and the possibility of grabbing the eighth seed in the Western Conference slips further and further away, head coach Luke Walton has said there will be a greater emphasis on providing the young players more opportunities during games.
Walton has debated a bit lately about making a change in the starting lineup, and it appears he has finally decided to pull the trigger. According to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, Brandon Ingram will start on Monday against the New York Knicks.
This, of course, will not be the first time Ingram has started for the Lakers, but it would be the first time he has started for any reason other than another player being injured. With Julius Randle returning, the Lakers should be at full strength for the first time in months.
Ingram has certainly endured some rookie struggles thus far, primarily with knocking down shots. But playing alongside the team’s best playmaker in D’Angelo Russell could generate some open looks for the 19-year-old out on the wing.
Personally, when Randle was out, I would have preferred Ingram to start in his place with Deng sliding over to the four, but it is great to see him get the opportunity now, if it indeed comes to fruition against the Knicks.
Since returning to the lineup on January 31, Russell has played over 31 minutes in each game, which is noteworthy since he averaged just 26 minutes when he got hurt. Walton said that the young guys would get more opportunities, and it looks like he is staying true to his word.
Mike Trudell has confirmed earlier reports of Ingram entering the starting lineup, also adding that Timofey Mozgov may be coming off the bench.
Trudell followed up this tweet by adding that Walton will announce the full starting lineup at 3:30 PM PST, but it appears the young guys will be getting more minutes.