At this point, it seems as though rookie Brandon Ingram will come off the bench to start his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Although head coach Luke Walton hasn’t ruled out the possibility that Ingram could be a starter right out of the gate, all signs point to a reserve role for the former Duke star.
On Tuesday, general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke to the media about a number of different topics as Lakers training camp got underway in Santa Barbara. Kupchak touched on Ingram’s status heading into camp and believes the 18-year-old will play a significant role in his rookie season, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters.
Mitch Kupchak says he expects Brandon Ingram to play a lot this season, but doesn’t anticipate he’ll start & says that’s up to Luke Walton
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) September 27, 2016
Ingram will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job at small forward throughout training camp and the NBA preseason that follows. The rookie forward will be going up against veteran newcomer Luol Deng for the distinction as the starter at the three spot. Deng signed a lucrative four-year deal with the team over the summer and is currently the team’s highest paid player.
Going with a proven veteran to start the season is the smart move for a first-time head coach. Walton can’t really go wrong with playing his highest-paid player in the starting lineup and then bringing his prized rookie along slowly as one of his go-to backups.
It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out for Ingram as camp progresses and throughout preseason leading up to the season opener on Oct. 26 against the visiting Houston Rockets.