Los Angeles Lakers

Summer Workout Plan: How Brandon Ingram can make LeBron James even better

NBA_Summer-Workout-Plan_Ingram.jpg
Brandon Ingram (NBA Canada Illustration)

The Summer Workout Plan is a weekly series breaking down what certain players can do to take their game to another level this season. First up were Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby and Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball.

This week, we're putting Brandon Ingram's game under a microscope.

Of all the youngsters the Los Angeles Lakers have on their roster, Brandon Ingram is the most likely to develop into a superstar.

The No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ingram proved to be a star on the rise in his sophomore season with averages of 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He took on far more reasonability as a creator compared to his rookie season and improved his shooting percentages across the board, going from making 40.2 percent of his field goal attempts in 2016-17 to 47.0 percent in 2017-18.

His improvements in those areas bode well for his fit with LeBron James. Like Lonzo Ball, LeBron's arrival will put pressure on Ingram to continue improving as a shooter, particularly from 3-point range, where he shot 39.0 percent last season. Unlike Ball, Ingram is best suited to fill the Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving role next to LeBron as the team's secondary scorer and facilitator.

The scoring should be less of an issue for Ingram, though there's reason to believe the North Carolina native will also thrive as a playmaker for others next to LeBron. When Luke Walton handed Ingram the keys to the offense in the month of February last season, he had the most productive month of his NBA career as a passer, with 5.6 assists per game. He then followed it up on a strong note in the final three games of the season, to the tune of 5.0 assists per contest.

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Irving, for what it's worth, averaged 5.3 assists per game during his three seasons with LeBron in Cleveland. Wade posted similar numbers (4.7) in his four seasons with LeBron in Miami.

Month Games Assists Per Game Turnovers Per Game Assist to Turnover Ratio
October 7 3.0 2.9 1.05
November 14 2.9 2.1 1.33
December 12 4.1 2.8 1.44
January 13 3.8 2.5 1.53
February 10 5.6 2.4 2.33
March 3 5.0 3.0 1.67

Ingram's most impressive showing during that six week stretch came on Feb. 2, when he dished out 10 assists against the Brooklyn Nets. Filling in for the injured Ball at point, Ingram made the right read time and time again, sucking multiple defenders into the paint on drives to the basket and kicking it out to wide open teammates.

Ingram had another notable performance at the end of the month, recording eight assists and only one turnover in a win against the Sacramento Kings. His last assist of the night came on a sweet pass to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a backdoor cut.

Now imagine LeBron setting a screen for Ingram and rolling to the basket as opposed to Caldwell-Pope...

While LeBron didn't generate much of his scoring as the roll man last season, he ranked in the 80.1 percentile with an average of 1.23 points per possession, putting him on the same page as the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Steven Adams and Al Horford. If LeBron is committed to spending more time off-ball as he enters the final stretch of his career, it's easy to imagine him thriving as a screener and roller.

With his blend of size, speed and athleticism, LeBron could even become the scariest off-ball player in the league.

The plan is for LeBron to spend more time off-ball, too. He'll still be the Lakers' primary ball handler his season - he's too good of a scorer and passer not to - but Ingram could be the key to the 14-time All-Star reaching his potential as a cutter and roller because of his versatility on offense. Not only can Ingram space the floor for LeBron as a shooter when he doesn't have the ball in his hands, he can create in ways Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Kyle Kuzma can't when he is in control of the offense.

Ingram showed flashes of it last season. Now it's time for him to put it all together on a nightly basis.

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