With the second pick in the NBA draft Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers selected arguably the best player in the 2016 NBA draft. His name is Brandon Ingram, he’s only 18 years old, he weighs about 190 pounds, but he’s 6-feet-9 with arms that stretch forever. In his first and only season at Duke, the kid shot 46% on two-pointers, 41% on three-pointers, both figures which would have led all Lakers playmakers last season. Throw in the kind of defensive havoc that a 7-foot-3 wingspan can cause and you’ll understand why Luke Walton got excited. “We got the player I wanted in the draft,” said Walton at a buzzing Lakers training facility. “I don’t know if he’s the best or not, but we got the player I wanted, for sure.” Ingram likes to quote Mike Krzyzewski, talks fondly of fishing with his grandmother while growing up in North Carolina, and, in his down time, loves to sketch with shading pencils and charcoal.
In other words, Brandon Ingram fits perfectly with Lakers Coach Luke Walton’s desire to assemble a roster of players with character. And, indeed, the small forward can play. All he did in college was generate one of the best seasons ever for a young player at Duke, ranking among the school’s all-time freshman leaders in scoring (third), three-pointers (second) and 20-point games (tied for second). It was a no-brainer for the Lakers to take Ingram with the second overall pick Thursday after Philadelphia drafted Louisiana State forward Ben Simmons with the top pick at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Now let the post-Kobe era begin.