Pacific Notes: Ingram, Tucker, Russell

No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram has made great progress over the course of his first three months in the NBA, writes Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, and the humble Lakers rookie deserves to start in place of veteran Luol Deng.

Oram cites Ingram’s preparation and focus, as well as head coach Luke Walton‘s recent praise of the young forward, as reasons why change should come to the Lakers’ lineup.

There’s plenty of times where the best answer for our success is Brandon,” Walton told Oram after the Lakers took down Indiana on Friday, “And there’s plenty of times where we just want to challenge the hell out of him and see how he responds.”

In 11 January games, Ingram has upped his production, averaging 11.5 points per game versus the 7.1 he recorded in December.

Unless Walton fears a promotion would “douse Ingram’s competitive fire” Oram argues that starting the rookie is a “no-brainer”.

Elsewhere in the Pacific Division:

  • No stranger to trade rumors, P.J. Tucker is well aware of the business side of basketball, writes Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. “It’s part of business,” the Suns forward said Thursday. “Contract year. Being a defensive player, a lot of teams are looking to make an addition to (help) fight for a championship.”
  • Second-year Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell tweaked his knee Friday, but the mild MCL strain may not even force him to miss time, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think it’s as bad as I initially thought,” Walton said of the fall. “When I saw him go down, I was pretty worried, but he said he felt all right when I checked on him at halftime.” Russell will undergo an MRI on Saturday.
  • The Achilles injury suffered by Rudy Gay will impact more than just the Kings. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders explores all of the ripple effects that the Gay news could have on the trade  market throughout the league as teams that considered making bids for the forward will have to look elsewhere.

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