2. Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers
Brandon Ingram had always been a talented player but it often took him time before he was able to showcase his full array of skills. His time at Duke was no different, in five of his first seven games as a Blue Devil he scored in single digits. In the remaining 29 games, he played he would only register less than 10 points once. Following up the 2015 National Championship team, Ingram’s Blue Devils were a let down in Durham losing to Oregon in the Sweet 16.
As mentioned in the Ben Simmons slide, there was some talk of Ingram being worth the top selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Whereas Simmons had the all-around game and brought the skills of a point guard in the size of the big man, Ingram had a more refined offensive game as he showcased the ability to knock down perimeter shots and was adept at creating offense with the ball in his hands.
Ingram was the second consecutive second overall pick for the Lakers and the fan base convinced itself that D’Angelo Russell and Ingram would be the cornerstone pieces in rebuilding the Lakers into the league’s best team. With Simmons’ sidelined for the 2016-17 season expectations naturally fell on Ingram’s shoulders to be the top rookie in the 2016 draft class.
However, Ingram once again got off to a slow start. He would finish his rookie season averaging 9.4 points per game, four rebounds, two assists per game and shot 40.2 percent from the field, 29.4 percent on three-pointers, and 62.1 percent from the free throw line–surely not Rookie of the Year-worthy numbers.
He would bounce back in his next two seasons and with the addition of LeBron James on the Lakers, Ingram had his best season to date, but injuries would limit him to just 52 games and he is currently recovering from deep venous thrombosis (a blood clot) that was discovered towards the end of last season. In New Orleans, the hope is that Ingram has had his time to adjust and will help headline the Pelicans’ youthful roster alongside Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball.