There’s formula for guys that are going to win Rookie of the Year, one that’s tried and true from Karl-Anthony Towns last season back to Shaquille O’Neal and beyond. The player needs to be talented, but he also needs to be on a team where he will get a lot of touches and minutes as a rookie — he’s got to put up numbers.
Brandon Ingram fits that formula and he could be the first Los Angeles Laker ever to win the award (Elgin Baylor won in back when the team was in Minneapolis). Speaking to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Ingram said it’s a goal.
“That’s something that is on my mind,” Ingram said in a phone interview with Southern California News Group. “All rookies want to win Rookie of the Year. That’s something that drives me.”
Ingram looked solid but like a rookie who has a lot of work to do at Summer League. He needs to add weight and strength not to get pushed around by the men in the NBA (a process that takes time to do right). He’s also got to be a more consistent shooter, he averaged 12.2 points a game on 41.2 percent shooting in Las Vegas.
What Lakers fans should like about Ingram is that he gets there is a lot of work to do, and he is putting in the time. He’s got a maturity about him. And, he understands where this young Lakers team is on the learning curve.
“We know we’re not going to go out and win 50 games this year and develop that chemistry right away,” Ingram said. “We know it’s a process. We have a new coach. We’ll have to continue to work hard each and every day. Hard work, developing chemistry, having good teammates and a good locker room, I think that’s what a successful season is.”
In handicapping the Rookie of the Year race, Ingram is right at the top, along with No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Sixers (who also will have a lot of minutes and touches). Other guys to keep an eye on are Kris Dunn in Minnesota, Buddy Hield in New Orleans, and Jaylen Brown in Boston (if he gets the run). Other guys farther down the draft board may surprise if they get the run, like Denzel Valentine in Chicago or Jamal Murray in Denver.
Rookie of the Year is not the award Lakers’ fans are used to their stars winning, but welcome to the new NBA. It’s a rebuild and it’s going to take time — years — to get back near the top. But a ROY would be a sign they are on the right path.