Lakers’ actual 2016 pick: Brandon Ingram; should have been: Brandon Ingram
The Lakers nailed this one, if not for the reasons they might have thought. Several players of comparable value to Ingram were picked later, such as Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray, Domantas Sabonis, and Pascal Siakam. Some of those players have likely surpassed Ingram in the league’s hierarchy. But Ingram blossomed the quickest, which was very important for the Lakers.
Ingram had a tentative first year as he adjusted to NBA physicality. Still, he became nearly a 20-point scorer by his junior year in the league, showing flashes of solid playmaking and defense. The fit next to new teammate LeBron wasn’t perfect, but there had been some encouraging signs.
But James isn’t known for his patience. When Anthony Davis became available to the Lakers, Ingram became the headliner (along with other picks and players, including a guy we’re about to talk about) in the trade package to New Orleans.
The Lakers could likely have done the trade even without Ingram, but given his solid trade value at the time, they may have had to pony up even more assets. And without Davis, there’s likely no championship in 2020.
As Brian Windhorst likes to say, you never have to apologize when you win a championship. Ingram’s various injuries have slowed his ascension (he’s only cracked 63 games in a season once, his rookie year), and he’s regressed on the defensive end. Trading Ingram in a package for AD is a trade the Lakers would do every day of the week and twice on Sunday.