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2016 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Brandon Ingram is the best fit for the Suns

Brandon Ingram has legit NBA size and shooting, but is he too raw for the Suns to take in the draft?

If you haven't been following much NBA draft talk throughout the college basketball season, Ben Simmons vs. Brandon Ingram for the No. 1 pick became more and more real as we got closer to March.

Simmons was, without question, the best player in college basketball heading into the season, and elements of his game that reminded many of all-time greats had him cemented as the best draft prospect in the process.

Ingram was seen as one of the wild cards of the 2015 recruiting class for both college basketball and the NBA draft, but he started the season shooting 39 percent in November while Simmons averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in the month.

The next two months -€”- and the rest of the season --, however, changed things. Ingram was on fire, putting up 55/46/68 shooting percentages in December and 52/48/69 in January that put him on the radar as a clear-cut No. 2 on draft boards.

Ingram proved he could hang with Simmons, who put up even better numbers than that in those two months.

The rest of the season would be Simmons' downfall. He not only failed to improve his shooting and defense, but even regressed as a player from November to March. While it was a poor situation at LSU, his team had numerous big games Simmons needed to step up in and he failed to time after time, looking disinterested and frustrated in most games.

While Ingram didn't continue his ridiculous form, he showed growth€” and his shooting, passing and overall basketball IQ on the floor continued to look like the real deal.

Simmons was sitting at home during March Madness while Ingram was holding off comebacks and leading his team down the stretch on the biggest stage in college basketball.

I put Ingram -€”- who is 14 months younger -- No. 1 over Simmons after that run and think he's the best fit for the Suns if they win the lottery. Let's take a look at what he does.

KD 2.0?

Brandon Ingram is nowhere near the offensive player that Kevin Durant was at this age, but his body sure is similar. He's a wiry 6'10" with a long 7'3" wingspan.

Ingram's athleticism just about crosses the finish line when compared to other elite NBA players. It's going to be a positive for him in the NBA and he won't be detracted by others who are athletic freaks, because he is one.

The release

The other appeal of the Ingram comparisons to Kevin Durant is his release. It's quick, high and smooth. He shot 41 percent on 195 attempts in his only season at Duke and is by far his most valuable NBA skill.

Ingram will be ready to shoot the ball when he's open.  Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker have proved their good enough passers to find the open shooter and Ingram can either provide more spacing or knock down the shot.

This action here is something you could easily see working with Bledsoe, Booker or even Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin. Even with barely any space in the corner, he's quick and long enough to make you pay.

Basketball IQ/floor vision

A casual comparison of Ingram and Simmons will most likely not give Ingram the credit he deserves as a passer. His size allows him to see the floor and he takes advantage of it.

Some premier offensive options (for whatever reason) take a very long time to pick up on how defenses move as a unit around the floor and/or can't make the passes when they realize it.

That's not Ingram. This play may look simple, but look at him get his head up when he crosses half court. He reads the defense instantly and doesn't force his own finish or even the pass itself. It's a quick, but calm play.

He's a very intelligent player and his long and quick first step allows him to get by defenders and then decide what's next. If the pass to a teammate is the move, he can make it.

Decision making as a primary option on offense

The problem for Ingram in making that decision is that he makes the wrong one every now and then.

His ball-handling might not be tight enough for the next level and while he can create space for himself, his instincts as a scorer come nowhere close to the likes of Durant and other elite offensive players to come out in the past decade.

The progress of his handle especially is something to monitor over time because that's how he will add more diversity to his scoring. On this move here you'd like to see him cross back over to his left and take advantage of the space near the foul line. Instead of using it, he goes in a straight line. I believe he's agile enough to add moves like that to his arsenal.

His all-around offensive game is one I'd bet on to be great and somewhat complete at some point in his NBA career, but it's going to take time.

The potential is there...

The next steps for Ingram are going to be creativity and control. His length allows him to get looks most won't and if he shows some more control, he can create angles for his shot, and with that comes incorporating different elements besides drives to the hoop and 3-pointers.

Ingram does not project to be anywhere close to the offensive player Durant is because Durant has one of the best combinations of handles and shooting we've ever seen. Durant can cross you up to create space for his own shot, capitalize on very minor mistakes, or just shoot over perfect defense because he's that good as a shooter.

Ingram doesn't appear to be anything close to that (he shot 68 percent from the free throw line), and growing between the 3-point line and the rim is going to be huge for him. Can he develop a good enough handle to take advantage of how easy it is for him to A) get into midrange territory and B) rise up over defenders?

Besides the next section, that's the justified argument on how raw he is.

Finishing over length

The one prospect of his offense that could ruin him is finishing over length. He's not a terribly explosive leaper and doesn't get much height when he's entering the key to finish at the rim.

Here are numerous troubling examples:

When he's quick enough to beat defenses, however, it's not a problem.

Once his initial defender recovers, he's in trouble.

That's where you'd like to see him incorporate floaters, jumpers with deep post position and more dynamic stuff around the basket. He will also benefit from becoming less predictable when he starts to develop more from the midrange.

The thing is, he's already shown some of these moves off. These types of post jumpers are exactly what you want from a guy with his size and shooting release.

He's also not even 19-years-old yet, so he can still continue to grow physically.

Defensive potential

Ingram has the ability and smarts to be a plus-defender in the NBA and as an added bonus, looks to be good enough off the ball to play some small ball positions.

He's still young, though, and that type of play from him at the NBA level will take time. The good news is that like his overall package as a scorer, we are seeing some serious signs of it.


Ingram is the best prospect in the draft and also the best fit for the Suns. He's ready to shoot now and has serious long-term upside as a scorer and defender. He's certainly not a No. 1 overall pick to freak out about, but that's the reality of this draft class.

Ingram is very well-suited for today's NBA and could absolutely play some small ball 4 in certain matchups. Unlike Simmons, you are not going to need to have certain personnel on the floor in order to get the most out of him.

He's one of the youngest prospects in this class and it's hard to see his game on both ends not taking major strides after a couple of seasons at the next level. Even if his complete game didn't come together, he's a solid bet to be a positive 3&D wing, something that would be much appreciated next to Booker in the future.

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