Five games into the Los Angeles Lakers preseason, we caught up with Brandon Ingram about his experiences since being drafted No. 2. From the greatest piece of advice he’s received so far, to what he’s realizing now is the biggest adjustment to the NBA game, Ingram opens up about what it means to gain respect in this league.
Q: Individually, do you notice improvements game by game, week by week or how does that process work for you?
Brandon Ingram: I think it’s building confidence, just trying to work on in practice the game shots that I’m getting in the game, and just try to come out, knock shots down, get my energy going, try to come off the bench, get my energy going and just overall try to attack openings.
Q: I know you’ve said you haven’t felt nervous out on the court (even after your first game), but are you starting to feel more comfortable each game?
Ingram: Most definitely, I think I’m getting more comfortable, more touches on the ball, it’s a different position being in the three position and not being ball dominant, so it’s definitely been an adjustment, but I’m just getting more used to it. I’m getting more comfortable, attacking my opportunities and as the games go on, I’m going to try to keep building and building.
Q: We’ve talked about the pace of the game before and adjusting to that in the NBA from college, so that aside, are there any adjustments that you didn’t anticipate that you’re starting to notice?
Ingram: I think in this league, you see a lot of more consistent, better and stronger basketball players so just knowing personnel is a big adjustment for me, just going from college basketball players, but in the NBA everybody has different things that they do well, so just knowing personnel and trying to go in and try to attack that and attack their weaknesses.
Q: When you said that, it almost made me think of you, creating an encyclopedia of guys, that you have to go up against each guy, gain information, figure out how to guard them…
Ingram: Absolutely, I think that’s something that we have to do for my first year, something that I have to do even more, just knowing what this guy does well, try to make him uncomfortable, and try to make him do something else to beat us.
Q: Last year, with D’Angelo Russell, there was so much talk about him matching up against other elite point guards. Do you feel like you get the pressure of people talking about different matchups for you?
Ingram: Absolutely, but I think as a player you attack it in a different way. When you see other players you just want to compete and you want to learn, and you want to get the best out of the other guy and also take things from their game and try to use it in your game, but just compete, compete in every single play and make the best out of it.
Q: So, maybe more than you seeing it as someone coming out on top in that matchup, with you being a rookie, it’s more about gaining the learning experience and the information about that player?
Ingram: Absolutely, and it’s all about gaining respect. You only get respect by competing. You get respect by going at the guy and not just laying back, not just saying that you’ve been looking at this guy for a long time or you’ve been seeing this guy, and this guy has played so well, and you’re just going to lay off. I think it’s important to compete and gain respect from the veteran.
Q: You just mentioned gaining respect from the veterans, are you still having veterans from opposing teams encourage you?
Ingram: Absolutely, I think all the guys are competitors, but off the court, it’s more than basketball. It’s basketball, and we compete but they also just point you in the right direction. Especially the vets, they know it’s a new era that’s going to come, and new guys coming into this league, so they try to pitch everything they’ve learned.
Q: Best piece of advice you’ve gotten so far in this process?
Ingram: Just stay patient. I think staying patient and just knowing it’s going to come, knowing that it’s a process. This is your first year in the league, my first few months, it’s always going to be a process, keep learning, taking everything in and make the most out of it.