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5 Problems the L.A. Lakers Must Solve Before the End of the Season



Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

There are several teamsDenver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and the Lakerscounting on their young cores to grow. But the Nuggets have Nikola Jokic, the Wolves have Karl-Anthony Towns, the 76ers have Joel Embiid and the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Who’s the Lakers’ franchise player today?

There are 92 players this year with no more than three years of experience who have played at least 500 minutes. Here are how the Lakers’ youngsters stack up with the rest of the league, based on player efficiency rating:

Rank

Player

Age

MP

PER

18

Larry Nance Jr.

24

869

15.8

19

Julius Randle

22

1,412

15.6

21

Tarik Black

25

749

15.4

24

D’Angelo Russell

20

1,112

15.3

36

Jordan Clarkson

24

1,587

13.3

89

Brandon Ingram

19

1,604

7.2

There are several alarms that should go off here. First, they don’t have anyone in the top 17, much less the top 10. Second, based on this, none of the youngsters look like future franchise players. Perhaps Julius Randle or D’Angelo Russell have some chance at being All-Stars someday, but even that seems like a stretch.

Most disconcerting of all, Brandon Ingram is looking like his chances of being a bust are better than being a star.

Now, it’s true that PER is never the final say. Nor is Ingram’s first half of his rookie season indicative of what his entire career will be. However, his minus-0.5 win shares tie him for 33rd-worst by any rookie in history.

There aren’t many players taken as high as him in the draft (say top-five for discussion’s sake) who had negative win shares and went on to have positive win shares. Guys like Adam Morrison, Michael Olowakandi and Marcus Fizer don’t don’t inspire confidence. Allan Houston, Jamal Crawford and Lindsay Hunter, all taken a bit later, carved out decent livings for themselves. But none of them were franchise players or even close. 

Turning to the numbers at SynergySportsTech.com, Ingram is in the 12th percentile in scoring, with just .783 points per possession. He’s a decent spot up shooter, though, landing in the 51st percentile. 

But he’s just awful as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. He shies away from contact when he gets into the lane and settles for pull-up mid-range shots which tend to miss. When he does go all the way to the rim, he doesn’t finish through contact and misses those too. As a result, he’s in just the 8th percentile. Similarly, he’s just in the 22nd percentile on isolation plays.  

And this is where the concern is: Can Ingram ever be a high-level shot creator? If not, his ceiling is just a knock-down spot-up shooter with a ceiling of Houston or Hunter. While that wouldn’t be a “bust”, it would be a disappointment. 


Perhaps the Lakers would be wise to sell him while there is still some appeal, even if that trade is for a lower pick.



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