Welcome to the first scouting report of many to come before the 2016 NBA Draft
Now Ingram was a very big question mark coming in. He was the #3 prospect on most boards and even as low as 6 on others. He was their justifiably so as he was a rail thin forward that tended to disappear at times and lose himself. Still, early on there was some talk at him having the potential to overtake Simmons for the #1 spot. As a fan of Simmons’, he has done everything he could to do so and has slid into the #1 spot. Well, let’s get my scouting series started.
Smooth. Very Smooth. That is the best way to put Ingram’s offensive game. From playmaking to shooting to even running, everything he does is so smooth. His offense is often compared to Kevin Durant and the comparison is certainly there. Although it does seem a bit much to compare him to one of the best scorers ever, his game has some resemblance to that of KD’s. His 7’3″ length allows for him to shoot over most defenders and helps him make up for his lack of strength when backing a player down in an isolation. He doesn’t have to work as hard to get his shot off, all he has to do is back him down 2 times and then just turns and fades. It is that easy for him. Not to mention he is explosive enough to take defenders off the dribble if they start playing him more close up. Most of his bread and butter at Duke came from catching and shooting. He was able to step into his shot and hit it or simply get the ball and shoot some pretty tightly contested shots. Its not just though, as the progressed, the guards continuously looked for him and he proved that he could keep hitting them. Now he did have a couple cold stretches from down the arc but that didn’t have much of an affect on his game because it isn’t the only way he leaves his make.
The Kingston produce posses a good handle for his size at 6’9″ and it has allowed him to show off something that has really stood out to me and has to many scouts. In the preseason, he wasn’t much of a playmaker as he always tried to create for himself. He threw up the occasional lob pass or kicked it out to a guard but during the regular season he started doing this all much more often. When the rival team began to press Duke, Ingram would take the ball up and look for a cutter or bait the defense to collapse on him then he would kick the ball out to an open shooter. Coming out of high school, he was always a great scorer but his playmaking wasn’t where it is at today. He has learned to read defense and take what they give him. He can run pick and rolls pretty well and did a sold job of setting screens and popping or rolling. That’s what make him so special. He has a great shot from the outside, good playmaking skills, and a couple go to moves already coming into his rookie year. My favorite being his dribble drive followed by a spin move off the big and either finishing or dishing it. It is quite impressive for a player at his age and frame to be able to do that move so efficiently but it remains to be seen how successful it truly is in the NBA. Also, that jab step and shoot is going to be very formidable as few players have the length to bother his shot.
With that insane wingspan, he has immense defensive potential as he can bother a lot of shots and go into passing lanes to gamble for steals not all players can get. He really impressed me on this end because his slim form factor at 6’9.5″ and 196 pounds should make him a liability but he was able to handle college power forwards surprisingly well. He plays stronger than his frame dictates as he shows plenty of effort on that end to recover well. His 9’1″ standing reach does help him block plenty of shots. Now there will be issues to start on here because he isn’t fundamentally polished and he won’t be able to fully guard NBA wing players yet so he might come into the league and start the first few games at the SG spot. Although Brandon isnt one of the most tenacious players in the world, he doesn’t ever lack effort when he is playing defense. He is the anti-Simmons on defense because, like Simmons, he has all the tools to be a good/great defender, the difference being the effort they display. You will rarely see Ingram jog up the floor or give up on a play. He knows that to be at least an average defender, a little concern is needed.
A great example of this was when Duke was playing Oregon in the Sweet 16 and Duke was trailing for most of the game yet Ingram was always seen hustling back. He carried the team and gave them a shot to win but in the end it wasn’t enough. I do believe too much is made of the entire “killer dog” thing and who has it and who doesn’t. If that was what determine NBA careers and was a measuring stick for ceilings, Buddy Hield would be the best player in the draft (which he isn’t by the way). There is so much more that goes into the evaluation process. Ingram does dose off at times but he is usually focused on the game and when he is hot, he is hot. Hotter than Daisy Ridley as Rey. He seems pretty unstoppable and it looks like he is possessed. Hopefully he ends up on a team that feed him the ball more than the Ted Cruz JR. led Blue Devils. His college team limits him at times and it would make him just disappear. Watch out NBA, when aggressive Brandon Ingram comes to play, he comes with his full arsenal.
Slim frame that needs a lot of work
This has been his major flaw from the preseason and although it has improved, it still holds him back from fully becoming the player he should and it will continue to unless he adds muscle to his rail thin frame. Now the effect of it is a bit exaggerated but it does limit his potential. It goes as far as deciding how high his ceiling goes. His toughness, on the other hand, helps to neutralize his weakness somewhat but it is still present. He plays hard and shows a lot of effort but his lack of strength does manage him to get thrown around at times. Once he makes the jump to the next level, the world class athletes won’t be allowed be taken advantaged of like most college players are. If Ingram would be tasked to guard Lebron or Kawhi Leonard, he would be made their b****. This makes it possible for him to start the season as a shooting guard so he can get acclimated to the NBA pace while not having to guard the monsters at small forward. Who knows, once he bulks up enough the can play some small ball 4 ( *wink wink* Kevin Durant). The amount of weight he needs to add is quite the amount and there is still the question of how much his own body can hold. His entire career revolves around how his frame and body develops. He can either become a first option on a championship contender or a role player.
Mentality/fine tuning somethings
Now you must be reading this and wondering how isn’t Brandon a lock for the #1 pick and that is because he is not the perfect prospect. His defense needs to be improved fundamentally as he does get beat a easier than he should and does struggle when guarding players with their back to the basket. Although flashes of playmaking potential have been seen, there still remains to see how he progresses in the area. He does make some bad reads here and there and he can’t pass as good as Ben Simmons but he is average and there is still room to grow.
Now this isn’t the same case as Ben Simmons but Ingram does tend to float around for stretches of time. Now that can be blamed on Duke and Coach K for letting Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen chuck up shots and completely ignoring him. Now he isn’t spared from all the blame because he did seem passive at times and didn’t shoot or play make when he had the chance to. Instead he would just keep swinging the ball around. His eyes seems to wander and its almost like he forgets that he is on the basketball court. He is much more aggressive than Ben but that is not saying much. Hopefully the Duke system hasn’t made him forgot how to play the sport where you shoot a ball in a net all together.
Comparisons are tricky and they can come back to bite people in the back. Each player shares qualities similar to current NBA players when they were also coming out of college. The comparison to Kevin Durant is often brought because of the length and scoring ability Ingram possesses is similar to that on a certain level. Now it is visible they both score and defend in the same way but Durant is one of the greatest scorers of all time and comparing him to Ingram is unfair to both sides. Durant is longer and taller and a better shooter but if Ingram becomes a poor-man’s KD, I’d call that worthy for the #1 or #2 pick in this draft class.
Now, my latest big board has him at the #1 spot based on his great tourney run and steady improvement over the season. Having Ben Simmons not live up to the hype that he came with also played a role in boosting his stock. As of right now, he is a lock to go top 2 and it will come down to whether the team believes in his potential or falls in love with Ben Simmons. Either way Ingram already made himself a lot of money and has proved his doubters and Ben Simmons supporters he is the real deal and worthy of a serious look for whatever teams has the #1 pick.
Good example of his lazy passes that result in turnovers but his hustle stands out here even more. He refuses to give up on the play and tries his best to bother the shot with his length. In a game where they were losing, he didn’t just watch the play unfold, he did what his team needed of him.
Referring back to the problem with his frame, here he is unable to finish because of his lack of strength. He couldn’t make a stronger move against his defender so he settled for a bad shot.
Brice gets the best of him this time as he plays good defense and bothers Ingram’s layup which is actually quite tough as Brandon can pull the ball back and force it in. This time Johnson effects it enough to make sure it rolls out.
Flashing that vision again, Ingram finds the diving Plumlee and fires a bullet right into his hands. Although it was a bit awkward getting the ball to him, it still was a great pass.
Another amazing hustle play where he displays impressive use of his vertical and hustle. It seems like a for sure lay up but Ingram gets up there and blocks the shot. Just an amazing recovery. The power of having all of that length and defensive potential summarized in one play.
My favorite move of his and a move that I think can translate well to the NBA is the drive and spin the other way to finish with a layup. So smooth and great foot work to work his defender into a spot where he was taken out of the play. Great finish over the center with amazing reach.
Oh yes, if you haven’t noticed a trend, I have chosen plays where he is displaying his toughness that is often questioned. Here he just rips the rebound away and take the ball up the court not looking to just pull up for a shot, he is looking to attack the rim.
Ingram gets lost and forgets who to guard. He has these mental lapses that cause him to make simple mistakes. He looks uninterested at times and doesn’t play as hard as he should. Here he focused too much on whether the player was going to drive it or not.
Brandon manages to pull down a rebound over Brice Johnson who is a great rebounder and shows plenty of grit and will to get the board. It is a little thing but it was good to see him set a tone early on.
Boy, this kid has a smooth shot that isn’t bother by much. Since his release pint is so high, it is hard to get a hand up on it unless you are right there and even then he can just rise and shoot. There are many times when he just jab steps a couple times and shoots it over a defender,
This was an amazing sequence that is known as Ingram’s breakout game where many people realized that his kid was something special and he deserved another look. He carried his Duke team for most of the game with his scoring and he seemed unguardable during his stretch in the game. He may not be the most outgoing player but he was locked in and ready to lead this team. He wasn’t going to let them lose. Aggressive Brandon Ingram is scary. Its better not to wake a player that has a giant wingspan because this happens.
Yeah, Ingram is a physical freak. Not a overpowering one but a towering one.