After averaging career highs across the board, small forward Brandon Ingram looks set to play an important role for the Los Angeles Lakers this upcoming season. Heavily criticised after an average rookie season, the former No. 2 overall pick made significant strides last season. Arguably the most talented member of the young core, Ingram made a statement despite his season being plagued by injuries. The 2018-19 NBA season will be the biggest of his career so far, so here’s what the talented forward has to do to become more than just a prospect.
The Emergence of Brandon Ingram For the Los Angeles Lakers
Ingram didn’t do a lot wrong last season. The main issue for the former Blue Devil was health. Playing 79 games in his rookie year, Ingram only made 59 appearances last season. The second-year forward dealt with injury problems all over his body. Six different injuries throughout the season fragmented what was still a good year for the 20-year-old.
If he can stay healthy and replicate his rookie season in terms of games played, there’s no reason why Ingram can’t be a key man once again. However, until he can prove otherwise, these persistent injury problems will remain a big question mark.
Learn from the best
Now we can’t talk about the young core without mentioning LeBron James. His impact on this young group will be crucial. Ingram is expected to be one the main benefactors of James’ arrival, something Magic Johnson made clear during an interview with ESPN:
“Listen, I want to put LeBron with [Ingram], in August, every day,” Johnson said. “September, then training camp, and then also in practice, on the bus, on the planes. Listen, these young guys didn’t really have a veteran to really teach them when we drafted them. And this guy, LeBron, man, he’s in such top shape today. And this is July. So that’ll help them understand how to train, how to also eat right, on and on and on. I think the guy who LeBron is going to have the biggest impact on is Brandon Ingram. Because he has the size and length to be really special.”
Ingram is lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with the best the game has to offer. On and off the court, the addition of James will benefit the team in more ways than most could imagine. Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and the team as a whole have the ability and talent to make a legitimate push for a top-four seed this upcoming season.
Having been the face of the Lakers’ young core for a couple years now, it’s time for Ingram to take the next step. Under head coach Luke Walton, Ingram has progressed nicely and next season should be no different. However, it’s time to take the jump from rising star to All-Star caliber player. Similar to Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, Ingram is more than capable. In fact, when you break his game down, Ingram might have more potential than anyone else in the league.
Search for a weakness, but it’ll be tough to find one; this is a 20-year-old kid who can do it all. Shooting — Ingram’s three-ball improved significantly last season, by almost 10 percentage points. His field-goal percentage took a nice jump as well, going from 40 to 47 percent. At times, Ingram makes passing — which is so important for a playmaking forward — look easy. When Ball went down injured last season, Ingram stepped in. In the month of February playing point guard, Ingram averaged 18.6 points, 5.2 boards, 5.6 assists, and just 2.4 turnovers per game. Ingram also provides great length and showed signs of genuine leadership for a young group last season.
Once he gets stronger and adjusts to a slightly new role this season, Brandon Ingram has the potential, talent, and motivation to become a household name. There’s an All-Star ready to break out in Los Angeles, and this season might just be the year.
LOS ANGELES, USA – JANUARY 10 : Brandon Ingram (L) of Los Angeles Lakers in action against Evan Turner (2nd L) of Portland Trail Blazers during a NBA game between Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA on January 10, 2017.
(Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)