The success of both the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers this season will hinge, to a degree, on the performance and development of their 2016 first-round draft picks.
Brandon Ingram, who the Lakers selected No. 2 overall, and Jaylen Brown, who the Celtics took No. 3 overall, are having good sophomore campaigns and are among the main reasons why Los Angeles has a better-than-expected 5-5 record and Boston sits atop the NBA standings at 9-2.
They will square off for the third time Wednesday night when the C’s host the rival Lakers at TD Garden.
So, which player is off to the better start as a pro? Let’s break it down below.
Here’s how they compare in basic averages:
Here’s how they compare in several shooting metrics, as well as offensive and defensive ratings:
Brown didn’t post stellar numbers as a rookie because he didn’t play a whole lot. That’s normal for a rookie on a team that finishes with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Gordon Hayward’s injury has thrust Brown into a much more important role for the C’s this season. He has started every game, something he did just 20 times as a rookie. His minutes almost have doubled, and with that increased playing time, Brown is scoring more than two times as many points per game and shooting slightly better from the floor and much better from 3-point range. He’s also become one of Boston’s better rebounders and a tremendous perimeter defender.
Opponents are shooting just 34.8 percent against Brown, which ranks 19th in the league among players who’ve appeared in five or more games. He’s contesting 4.2 3-point shots per game, which ranks sixth in the league and is one reason why the C’s have the best opponent’s 3-point percentage.
One area Brown must keep working at is playing well on the road. His road splits are much worse than his home splits. He’s shooting about 20 percent less from the field, about 30 percent less from 3-point range and scoring almost eight points fewer per game on the road compared to at TD Garden.
Still, Brown is improving in many different areas in a larger role for a team with championship aspirations. That’s the kind of growth you want to see from a second-year player.
Ingram, meanwhile, also is scoring more and shooting better from the field and beyond the arc with a minutes increase. His improved shooting, particularly from beyond the arc, is a welcomed sight. He uses his length and athleticism to get to the basket with relative ease, but his finishing touch around the rim could be better.
Ingram’s consistency has improved. He scored in double figures in just 12 of his first 36 games as a rookie. He’s hit double-digits eight times in 10 games this season.
Both players are enjoying fantastic starts to their second seasons, and while there is much more room to grow for each player, they’ve already shown an ability to handle important minutes and roles at such a young age.
Brown is slightly ahead of Ingram at this stage of their careers, but there’s reason to believe both of them will live up to their pre-draft hype. That’s an exciting prospect for the league’s two marquee franchises.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images