Brandon Ingram had the best game of his young career against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, dropping a career-high 32 points in the loss.
When the Los Angeles Lakers took Ingram with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the team obviously hoped eventually he would be able to have nights like that with regularity, and head coach Luke Walton believes Ingram is on the right track.
“He’s a competitor. He wants to win all the time,” Walton said. “I think he’s just continuing to grow as a player. Whether it’s national TV or not, he wants to come in and help his team win.”
All of those qualities could have been used to described Walton’s former teammate Kobe Bryant, whom Ingram’s been in communication with about how he can break out.
Ingram is obviously not going to be on Bryant’s level for some time, but Walton said there are still a few ways the second-year forward can try to become “the guy” for the Lakers in a similar fashion that Bryant and other superstars are for their teams.
“It comes with one, earning the respect of your teammates by the way you prepare and work, and Brandon has that. He 100 percent has that,” Walton said.
“Then, which I think is the hardest thing for young players is, finding a way to be consistently good every single night. With the amount of games we play, it’s hard. You just have to consistently do it.”
Ingram has struggled with consistency, but he’s been dynamite for the Lakers’ last five games, in which he’s averaged 18.2 points on 51.5 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists. If he can put together more of those stretches, he’ll start to resemble the alpha dog the Lakers and their fans hope he can eventually be.
“If you keep doing it and doing it and doing it, you kind of become that guy. But for us, it’s not just about the way he scored the ball [against the Warriors],” Walton explained.
“We don’t want him coming into a game with a mindset of getting 30 (points). He’s got to continue to play the right way and play within the system that we’re trying to play. If he can do that consistently, you become that guy.”
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