As the Los Angeles Lakers have shifted their roster drastically over the past two seasons, quickly scrapping their youth rebuild as soon as it became clear that LeBron James was interested in joining, Brandon Ingram has become the longest-serving Laker, even though that only means that Ingram has spent his first two seasons in the league wearing purple and gold.
Entering his third season, the pressure will be on him to achieve the Kevin Durant level of expectations that were originally placed on him when he was drafted out of Duke as the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, according to an article on the Lakers Nation blog. With the Lakers immediately shifting from a developing team to a contender in the Western Conference with the arrival of James, Ingram will no longer be burdened with the expectations of being the franchise savior, but will now have to adjust his game in the orbit of the best player in the world while surrounded by veterans who might not be as patient with letting Ingram work through his growing pains when a championship is on the line.
Judging from the way Ingram spoke on the Lakers’ media day, none of that pressure seems to have had any effect on the young star. “I don’t think I’ve thought about that once,” said Ingram, referring to his new role on the team. “For my role, I think I have to continue to be the same person every single day.”
Ingram saw his numbers rise in every category during his sophomore season. His 16.1 points per game put him in a three-way tie for team leader, while his 3.9 assists would put him in second place if you were to remove Isaiah Thomas’ short stint in Los Angeles.
When asked whether his role will be moving more toward a scorer or facilitator, Ingram said it was simply to be consistent in doing everything. “Whether it’s scoring the basketball or passing the basketball, I think I can do everything on the basketball floor,” said Ingram. “From scoring to passing and defending. I’ve just got to be consistent in what I do every single day.”
When pressed about what he spent his offseason improving, Ingram simply responded that “everything was a focus.” Still, Ingram was quite clear that his overall game had improved and was ready for whatever his role would end up being on the new-look Lakers.
“I knew I was going to have the basketball in my hands, I knew I was going to be off the ball,” Said Ingram. “So it was important for me to work on different things. Whether it was being ready to cut to the basket, catch and shoot, anything,”
Now without the pressure to be the superstar for the Lakers, the coming season could be the opportunity for Ingram versatility to shine through. In a new-look team that will likely take shape into whatever fits best around James, Ingram could find himself as the perfect wingman.