OVERVIEW: Brandon Ingram entered Duke as one of the most highly-touted recruits in the country, ranked No. 4 in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. The 6’9” Ingram lived up to his billing, capturing ACC Freshman of the Year honors while averaging 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He pumped up his scoring average to 23.0 during the Blue Devils’ three NCAA Tournament games. It was a foregone conclusion that Ingram would be a one-and-done college player and he could be the first player off the board. With his size, lanky physique and smooth stroke, the 18-year-old has drawn comparisons to Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
STRENGTHS: Ingram possesses just about every quality an NBA team could ask for in a wing player. He’s a superior shooter who averaged 44.2% from the field and 41.0% from long range while facing top competition. He’s also a willing passer and solid ball-handler who sees the floor well and can run the attack at times. His speed puts pressure on the defense in the open court, where he can go coast-to-coast after defensive rebounds or run the wing and finish. As DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony notes, Ingram is bound to create mismatches because, with his size and length, he can rise up and hit jumpers over the top of most defenders. If a bigger forward tries to check him, he can create off the bounce and attack the basket. With his 7’3” wingspan, Ingram can also be an impact player on defense. He averaged 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals for Duke and showed a willingness to be a two-way player, as one talent evaluator told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. “He’s chippy,” the Pacific Division executive said. “He’s in there competing.”
WEAKNESSES: Most players entering the NBA need to add strength to play their position but the concerns are greater with Ingram because of his wiry frame. He’s listed at less than 200 pounds and there’s no question, especially early in his career, that Ingram will simply be overpowered at times. That lack of bulk was one of the reasons why, as Givony points out, he converted just 48% of his half-court attempts inside the paint. While Ingram displayed a polished turnaround jumper, his lack of strength makes it difficult for him to operate in the low post. He was surprisingly below average from the free throw line, making just 68% of his attempts. Givony also asserts that Ingram occasionally loses focus on the defensive end and doesn’t close out as quickly as he should, while ESPN Insider Chad Ford believes that Ingram still has work to do with his ball-handling despite his ability to create off the bounce.
(For Part 2 of our Brandon Ingram Prospect Profile, please check back later today.)