Lakers: Better Rookie Season, D’Angelo Russell or Brandon Ingram?

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Advith Sarikonda

, Staff Writer

Lakers’ fans have a history of placing high expectations upon their team and its players. In that regard, this year will be no different. For instance, many have already pegged Brandon Ingram as one of the favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award this season. And as much as fans (myself included) would love to see that happen, it’s hard to envision that actualizing for a variety of reasons.

For one, not only is Ingram an extremely young player who has work to do pertaining to his physical development, but he’s also not a lock to start on opening day. Luol Deng, whom the Lakers signed to the tune of a 4-year, $72 million deal, will likely see time at the starting small forward spot, relegating Ingram to the bench.

After all, the Lakers wouldn’t have signed Deng to a deal worth upwards of $70 million for a spot on the bench. Of course, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility for Ingram to start at some point in the season, but it’s safe to say that Deng will man the small forward position for a considerable chunk of time.

Now we shift the focus to D’Angelo Russell, who also came off the bench for a considerable portion his rookie year (although for different reasons). As far as forecasting who will have had a better rookie season by season’s end, I’ll go with Russell, simply because of his position.

Seeing as this is a year of growth for the Lakers’ young core, I expect the team to take its time with Ingram’s development and not expedite his developmental process for impulsive motives. Though Russell was indeed a reserve during his rookie year, he was the primary ball-handler during his time on the court – a responsibility that helped him register some gaudy statistics regardless of his actual playing team (Russell was the youngest player in NBA history, for instance, to make 130 three pointers.)

Even if Ingram proves to be a more polished rookie during his time on the floor than Russell was last season, it’ll be hard for the Duke product to trump Russell’s rookie production considering the latter’s increased role within the offense.

Next: Timothy Jenkin, Staff Writer