The comparisons between Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram and Kevin Durant have been ongoing since Ingram first started to make a name for himself. At similar heights, nearly identical body types and possessing unique, versatile skill-sets at their position, it’s no wonder Ingram has continually said he’s molded his game after Durant.
After being selected as a member of the USA Select team, along with fellow Lakers D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, Ingram said he “absolutely” hoped to learn from Durant at the start of training camp. On Tuesday, Ingram got as good a chance as any, as he matched up with Durant during the Select Team’s scrimmage against Team USA.
Of course, Durant managed to body Ingram up quite a bit, but after practice, the veteran forward had incredibly high words of praise for the young rookie, and not just because he finally got to play against him, but also because he watched him a ton in college.
“He (Brandon Ingram) reminds me of myself, but he’s a little farther along than I was at that stage,” Durant said after Team USA practice. “I feel like if you continue to keep working, he’s with a great organization that’s going to push him and put him in a good position to be who he is. Continue to just work hard and believe in himself and everything is possible for him. He’s a great player. I watched him almost every game this season. I’m a huge fan, first person I can say that I can look at him and feel like I’m looking in the mirror. I’m rooting for him.”
In what ways does Durant see Ingram farther along?
“He’s a little bit more fluid than I was, as far as skill-wise, a little more advanced than I was at that time. I was just running, jumping, shooting threes,” Durant continued. “But, he could put the ball on the floor, change directions, get to the rim, shoot the pull-up three, so that stuff started to come a little later on for me, but he’s a little farther along than I was.”
Ingram’s weight, listed at just under 200 pounds for his 6’9″ frame, has always been a point of interest for the critics. At about 210 pounds coming into the NBA, Durant knows the feeling but said he never paid much attention.
“I just didn’t care what people were saying, I knew that I was a little different as a player, so I wouldn’t let that get in my way of what I wanted to do, so mentally I knew that I could play with these guys, so I didn’t let me not lifting 185 pounds, or being 210 (pounds) coming in (to the NBA), let it affect me.”
Durant hopes Ingram isn’t worried about it either.
“Once you get conditioned to the NBA game, the travel, the long season, it’s just basketball after that. I’m sure they have weight trainers and chefs and all those people to make sure he’s eating right and lifting. For the most part, if you can play, you can play, and he knows how to play the game.”