When the 2018-19 season started, it was thought that Brandon Ingram would be the number two guy behind LeBron James.
While Ingram has had a solid season so far, averaging 15.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 30.8 minutes per game in 20 appearances, it has been second-year foward Kyle Kuzma who has begun to rise up as the second option on this Lakers team.
On the season, Kuzma is averaging 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.9 minutes per game on 48 percent shooting, though so far in December he has really been lighting it up.
In five games so far this month – only one of which Ingram has played significant minutes in before going down with an ankle injury – Kuzma has put up 25.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists on 52 percent shooting and 38.5 percent from three-point range.
Kuzma is scoring the ball with ease right now, and is playing off LeBron James perfectly. Whether it’s spotting up for corner threes or cutting into the lane for layups, it seems the 23-year-old is really starting to settle in as The King’s sidekick.
This was more than apparent in last night’s win against the Miami Heat when Kuzma and LeBron combined for 61 points.
So, where does this leave Ingram? By the time he returns, which could be another week or so, Kuzma may have just settled in even more so as the number two option behind The King.
Some may argue the case for the Lakers to trade Ingram, but the team would be wise to hold onto the talented Duke product.
It’s easy to forget that Ingram is just 21-years-old, having left college after just one season as opposed to Kuzma who stayed at Utah for four seasons.
Also, if the Lakers want to live up to the basketball betting odds and make it to the NBA Finals – they’re currently third favorites in the Western Conference to reach the Finals, behind the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets – then they’ll need more than just Kuzma’s explosive scoring in order to get there.
Ingram is a player who can do a bit of everything, whether it’s scoring, playmaking or defending, which makes him the perfect player to be the third option on a championship contender.
So, for those reasons, it would be a smart move for the Lakers to hang onto Ingram while allowing Kuzma continue to build even more chemistry with James as the season progresses.
Just how good of a duo can Kuzma and James become? Only time will tell.