Through 16 games, the Lakers are currently 9-7. While that’s pretty good, and arguably ahead of expectations by a few wins, there is more offensive potential to unravel. One key part in unlocking that offensive potential is Brandon Ingram.
Brandon Ingram has the incorrect shooting profile for a wing player. It’s easy to say, “Just take more threes,” but that’s not the ultimate goal within the half court. One goal is just to get open shots. First, let’s take a look at the contested shot profile of the shot creator that Brandon shares the floor with.
LeBron James’s Contested Shot Profile
Despite being an MVP candidate throughout his career and arguably the best player in the NBA, he doesn’t take as many tough shots as Brandon Ingram. LeBron James shoots 17.8% of his attempts wide open.
When LeBron is wide open, he converts 44% of his 3-point attempts and 90% of his 2-point field goal attempts.
Just 43.1% of LeBron’s total field goal attempts are defended from four feet or less. Under that defensive pressure, he manages to convert 4.0 of 7.7 two-point field goal attempts per game: 51.9%.
Brandon Ingram’s Contested Shot Profile
Of his field goal attempts, only 10.8% of those shots are wide open, with six feet or more space to the nearest defender. He’s ranked along with the big-men, that aren’t known for their perimeter shooting. Most of the Laker guards and wings fall in line with 22% to 35% of their field goal attempts being wide open.
When he’s that open, he converts 87.5% of his 2-point attempts. Unfortunately, this is less than one attempt per game. Behind the arc, he converts at a 33.3% rate, but that’s on 0.8 wide open attempts per game.
On the flip side of things, Brandon Ingram takes 63.3% of his total field goal attempts defended from four feet or less. On these contests, he shoots 44.4% from 2-point range.
Frankly, LeBron James doesn’t take as many contested shots. Brandon Ingram is forcing a lot of shots he doesn’t need to take. Which leads us to….
Shot Type Problems
LeBron James and Brandon Ingram account for over 18 drives to the hoop per game. That is a wealth of attacks to the basket. Brandon accounts for just over 7 drives per game. However, on those drives, he assists on just 9.1% of them and has a field goal percentage of just 41.8%. Verticality at the hoop does bother him. Nearly 5 of his total points are derived from drives to the hoop, and it’s not an efficient method to score. Even worse, he has a career low 26.9% free throw rate, so he’s not drawing contact and getting to the line on those same drives.
The pull up jumpshot isn’t much more efficient at 43.8% from the field, yet this shot accounts for nearly 4 of his 15.2 total point average.
Catch-and-shoot doesn’t work either. This accounts for 3.3 of his total points, yet he shoots at just 40% with this shot type. While that’s a solid field goal percentage, there are still improvements that can be made to the types of shots he takes.
Where Is Ingram Effective?
Brandon is most effective in the areas that he gets the least frequency; elbow touches, post ups, and paint points. Paint points give an indication of off-ball movement, where he finishes 68.8% from the field, but it accounts for just 2 of his 15.2 points per game. From his post touches, he converts at a 50% rate, but it accounts for just 1.3 points per game. Lastly, he converts elbow touches at a 60% field goal rate, but that shot type accounts for just 1.2 points per game.
Simply put, just 4.5 of his 15.2 total points per game are done with any kind of efficiency.
Are There Signs Of Ingram Being Efficient?
Brandon Ingram’s best month as a Laker occurred in February of 2018. Back then, he averaged 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists on 54.5% shooting from the field and 52.2% behind the arc. When his role changed to back up point guard, he brought more confidence to his offensive repertoire, and the results spoke for themselves.
This occurred most recently against the Orlando Magic. While it was a poor loss due to lack of team effort, Brandon Ingram showed up. He finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Of those 17 points, 6 of them were off drives, where he converted 3 of 6 from the field. He did not have any post up shots, paint points, or elbow touches recorded, but finished the game with 7 of 13 shooting from the field.
The Lakers could set things up for him. It’s been too long since we’ve seen Ingram on a curl to the hoop and get a lob from Julius Randle. Why can’t that pass come from LeBron James? Off-ball, he has a larger catch radius than most guards. They just can’t compete with that wingspan. Increasing his off-ball opportunities would get him more open looks at the rim.
Brandon Ingram’s game is all about attacking off the dribble. He is only efficient when he has the size mismatch. This is most evident when he plays against opposing point guards.
He’s not beat up by the physicality on his drives. Cutting the distance to the hoop from elbow drives allows him to overpower guards while cutting off time for weak side help to rotate. This would bump his shooting percentages on his drives.
Brandon gets easier looks just by shooting over the defender. We just prefer those easier looks are from 3-point range, not from the mid-post. A small adjustment of just fading to the corner would go so far for him and the team, especially when he’s playing with the starting lineup. He shot 39.4% in catch-and-shoot three-pointers last year. It’s just a matter of time before that comes back, hopefully.
Maybe for now, there should be an adjustment for Brandon Ingram depending on the lineup. When he’s among the starters, having Lonzo Ball and LeBron James create open shots for him may improve his 3-point shooting and shots at the rim overall. But when the second unit comes in, he can roam freely against smaller opposing point guards and attack off-the-dribble.
That’s where he’s most comfortable. That’s where he’s efficient.
*Image by Isaac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images Information by NBA.com/stats*