Before, during, and after his stellar freshman season, Brandon Ingram has been the topic of debate across the country. Should he or Simmons go first overall? Is he Kevin Durant 2.0? Those questions are just two of the many surrounding the 18-year-old from Kinston, North Carolina.
Ingram announced his plans to enter the draft earlier today, and with that, the debate between whether he should go first overall or not will intensify. As far as draft profiling, Ingram has the most potential out of everyone in this class. He can shoot, rebound, pass, and drive, and has great physical attributes. His body type and play style do reflect Kevin Durant, but his production is far behind Durant’s after his first year at Texas.
Freshman Year Stats & Accolades
- 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, 41% 3P FG
- 2nd-team All-ACC
- ACC Rookie of the Year
With great height and great length, it’s no wonder why owners and GMs love this kid. Ingram is around 6’9 with shoes on but possesses a remarkable 7’3″ wingspan — just 1.75 inches shorter than Durant, who’s about an inch taller, according to DraftExpress. While he is long, Ingram is very lanky and tips the scale at about 195 pounds. On paper that seems like an issue, but he’s still very young, and his body is still maturing, so he’ll be adding muscle as his body develops upon entering the league.
Despite his slender body type, Ingram’s toughness has improved exponentially from the start of the season, and he isn’t afraid to go into the paint and get contact.
Alongside Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram carried a lot of the Blue Devils’ offensive load. As noted up top, there are no significant holes in Ingram’s game, the only thing being free-throw shooting. He can score from all levels and is especially dangerous from behind the three-point line. His average of 17.3 points per game was good enough for 7th in the ACC, and third among major conference freshmen (Ben Simmons, 19.2; Jamal Murray 20.0).
With 80 threes made, Ingram was seventh in the ACC, and second on the team to Grayson Allen. He has a great looking shot with superb mechanics and fluidity. Moreover, such length allows him to shoot over the top of a lot of defenders.
Without freakish athleticism, Ingram’s ball skills are respectable enough for him to be a threat off the dribble. Once he’s off the three point line and around the basket, he’s able to finish a vast array of challenging shots, and while he has yet to develop a significant post game, there’s a spin move that he’s incredibly fond of and is very effective.
Usually, dynamic players who are high-usage have a high turnover rate simply because they have the ball a lot. What I like about Ingram is that he doesn’t turn the ball over despite bearing such a huge load of the team; he boasts a usage rate of 25.9%. Of players with more than 1,100 minutes played and a usage percentage of 25 or higher, Ingram is one of 14 players to average two turnovers or less per game. That’s a testament to a high basketball IQ and great decision-making skills.
As always, every rose has its thorn. It was touched on briefly earlier, but Brandon Ingram is a mediocre foul shooter despite getting to the line a decent amount. He shoots at 68% and has attempted 170 foul shots this year.
Despite not being a freak athlete, there is no hesitation to put a defender on a poster if the situation is right.
We know that teams don’t get deep into the postseason without solid defense. And that was precisely Duke’s problem this year. By no means is Ingram a bad defender, but he logged a lot of minutes, carried such a load on offense, and his defense suffered sometimes.
In 18 conference games, Ingram’s DRtg per 100 possessions was 106, and he averaged over 37 minutes per game. Once he enters the NBA, chances are he won’t bear such an excruciating load like in college. Even with the extended minutes, there were flashes of stellar defensive play.
Not considered a shot-blocker, Ingram did block a fair amount of shots this season, 49 to be exact — obviously, length played a huge part, but every block still counts. Numerous times this year Ingram has chased a defender down on the break and swatted his shot from behind; if that didn’t happen, countless shots were altered just by him going straight up.
When playing the passing lanes, it’s bothersome for opponents to pass with Ingram’s length, no matter if it’s on the perimeter or an entry pass into the post. Those tree limbs for arms generated slightly more than one steal per game this year, not bad for a player who was running on fumes most of the time on the defensive end of the floor.
Selecting Ingram over Simmons will come down to who fits the picking team’s system better. After seeing Simmons this year, you know what you’re getting: a point forward with double-double potential and a jump shot that needs improving.
With Ingram, you’re picking on a mixture of substance and potential — more so potential. He has the potential to be the next Kevin Durant. I’m not sure he will be, but I’m certain that he’ll be a great player in the league. He played so well this year, and he’s still so young with boundless room to improve.
If Ingram slips out of the first two picks, everyone would be shocked, and it would be the biggest steal in recent memory.