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Chad Ford on Brandon Ingram and the NBA Draft

Chad Ford did an online chat today about the upcoming NBA Draft. One of the questions in particular was focused on Brandon Ingram:

Q. Wondering about Brandon Ingram from Duke. How big of a concern is his upper body strength or his bulk, or is that not really a concern after what Kevin Durant has done?

FORD: It’s a concern, because even Kevin Durant, as skinny as he was coming out of Texas, was considerably heavier than Brandon Ingram. Brandon Ingram is 195 pounds at 6’10”. That is especially thin. He was walking around ESPN the other day in a promotion with Speed Stick, and I’m like, that’s almost like a great nickname for him in the NBA, Brandon Ingram, the Speed Stick.

So how does that affect him? There’s just the physicality of the league, and I will say that he’s a tough kid. At Duke he really — even though he was thin, he was not afraid to mix it up. He did not shy away from contact, that he was tough, that when guys got physical with him, he bounced back. But he’s going to get a little overwhelmed at first in the league, and I think two things are going to determine his future. One is if he continues to develop that jump shot, and I saw him shoot the lights out in a workout that I went to in New York from the NBA three-point line, if he’s going to do that in the league, then he is going to have a long, long career because nobody is going to be able to block that shot, and you’ve seen guys like Reggie Miller, for example, that have a very thin body do just fine in the NBA because they had a skill that allowed him to thrive anyway, and he’s going to be able to defend multiple positions on the perimeter, which I think is really appealing.

I think if guys are going to post him up, he’s going to have some issues, and that’s going to be the one of the biggest concerns that I think you’re going to see from teams on that end.

That’s the real only concern with Ingram. If Ingram was at 220 right now, he probably would pass Ben Simmons as the No. 1 pick in the draft, but at 195, that’s very, very challenging.

Here were a few other questions where he mentioned Ingram and where he may possibly go:

Q.  Can you give me your thoughts on the Sixers? They have the No. 1 pick overall and what they may do, and then the two remaining picks that they have in the first round?

FORD: I think with the No. 1 pick, they’re going to select Ben Simmons. I think that he has been the frontrunner from day one. I think there was a lot of debate in the Sixers’ front office about Brandon Ingram and even a little bit with Kris Dunn. I think in both cases because they were better fits as far as need goes. I think at the end of the day, they feel like Simmons has the highest upside. He’s the best talent in this draft, and that they’re going to figure out how to make it work. Obviously the Sixers need backcourt help and they need shooting and they’re going to have to address that other ways, be it the draft or free agency or what have you, but when you get the chance to draft a 6’10”, 240-pound point guard with elite court vision and who’s an elite athlete, you don’t pass that up, and you’re watching what LeBron is doing right now in the Playoffs, and there’s just no answer for players that have those elite physical skills that then have guard basketball skills, and I think that’s what makes Simmons so attractive. I think the Sixers will figure out how to play him at point guard, how to put the ball in his hands, because that’s what he is and how he’s comfortable, and who knows, he may end up solving this point guard dilemma for the Sixers just by having Simmons play that.

As far as 24 and 26 go, it’s really hard to know because this draft is so fluid. We’re still trying to figure out the order of the top ten picks and to figure out what’s happening at 24 and 26, but I think there’s a couple things you can look at. One is obviously the Sixers need shooting and there’s going to be a couple players in that range, whether it’s a Malik Beasley out of Florida State or Malachi Richardson out of Syracuse, perhaps even an international player like a Furkan Korkmaz, so that might be a little low for him. Juan Hernangomez, guys that can really shoot the basketball are going to come at a priority. And then I think also maybe a combo guard, someone that can be both a ball handler and play the 1 and the 2, if Dejounte Murray was there out of Washington, I think there’s a lot of interest there, Tyler Ulis out of Kentucky. I think there’s a number of options for them as they get down that far in the draft.

But you’re basically at 24 and 26 looking at players that are rotation players at best. These are not necessarily guys that you would ever think of starting. So I think free agency and trades are going to have to be the way the Sixers go to address those other needs.

Q.  It’s been up and down and all over the board about what the Celtics will do at 3, and then also at 16. Also, the European kind of craze that happened 10, 12 years ago and how that’s cooled off, how do you gauge the European market now in terms of NBA teams? Why did that change so dramatically, and is it improved over the past couple years or is it still kind of down?

FORD: Look, the Celtics control the draft right now. I think we know that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are going 1 and 2. If they don’t go 1 and 2, it’ll be because Ingram went 1 and Simmons went 2. So the Celtics, we’ve got this really interesting challenging scenario for them. They would prefer to trade this pick. They would prefer to take it, package it with some of the assets they have and bring in a young veteran who is an All-Star caliber player to really build this team around. That’s been the plan all along. I think the Celtics have been fairly open about it.

The problem is in this draft, I’m not sure that the No. 3 pick, along with the assets that the Celtics have, are going to be enough to get that sort of player, and that’s frustrating for Celtics fans but it is what it is because you’re talking at the Jamal Murray level or the Kris Dunn level or the Marquese Chriss level, as a guy that doesn’t project as a sure-fire All-Star superstar down the road. They don’t project that way. And so teams being willing to give up a superstar for that become a lot harder, and the Celtics have a lot of nice pieces, a lot of interesting pieces, but again, none of them are necessarily guys that other teams really covet.

In fact, I actually think that the thing that the Celtics have, their No. 1 asset, is actually the Brooklyn Nets pick next year in 2017. They have the right to swap that pick. It almost looks like there’s no scenario in which the Nets are going to be good next year, and the 2017 draft looks absolutely loaded with talent, and that might be their best chip.

If they stay at 3, I think it’s safe to say — this is frustrating, but I think it’s safe to say that they’ve narrowed it down to four guys: Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Jaylen Brown out of Cal, and Marquese Chriss out of Washington. I think if they go upside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go Jaylen Brown. He fits a need. He’s a wing who’s very athletic. He did not shoot the ball well at Cal this year, but he shot the ball very well in workouts including the workout that he did with the Celtics, and if you’re saying at No. 3, look, let’s just swing for the guy who could be a superstar down the road and we’ll take a risk, then Brown seems like a pretty good calculated risk. If they want an immediate impact player, then I think that’s Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray. Dunn doesn’t necessarily fit a need. The Celtics have been drafting point guards for a while, but I will say that Dunn is a better point guard prospect than anybody that currently sits on the Celtics’ roster right now, which is appealing, and there’s a defensive ability, especially that’s very, very attractive.

Murray brings shooting, which is something the Celtics could use a lot more of and they need, as well. His defensive abilities, though, are very questionable, and I think that’s the concern there.

So I think what the Celtics decide to do, I don’t think they’ve even decided yet, and I think part of it is trying to figure out trades, figuring out what other deals they might be able to do, what’s going to happen at 16 and 23, and all of that may affect who they end up taking at 3 because the difference between a Kris Dunn, a Jamal Murray, a Marquese Chriss, a Jaylen Brown, it’s so negligible. I think they’re all similar types of prospects. It’s not you take the best player available. They’re in a tier of the best players available, and then you take the guy you think is going to fit the best need, and the Celtics may not know that until draft night, depending on the other sorts of deals that they do.

Another interesting note…Johnathan Givony of DraftExpress and The Vertical had this to say about Ingram and the Lakers:

In a draft many consider to have a significant dropoff after the second pick, the Lakers will be happy to “settle” for whomever the Sixers pass. Ingram is the player the Lakers would have targeted at No. 1 had they won the lottery, sources told The Vertical. He is a perfect fit for their roster and should generate a great deal of excitement about the future.