The Los Angeles Lakers opened up preseason play on Saturday, hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Honda Center. Although they faced a shortened training camp, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball gave a brief glimpse into the upcoming 2017-18 campaign. While the game did get rather sloppy, head coach Luke Walton was able to get in different rotations to get an understanding of how his players are progressing.
That progression started off with Ingram and Ball, facing their first official NBA action since Ball was drafted No. 2 overall. While Ingram dazzled during his lone appearance in the Las Vegas Summer League, the coaching staff wanted to see that aggression and confidence travel over to competition like Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Shabazz Muhammad.
Ingram struggled with his shot Saturday but showed a mature approach with his newfound leadership role. While the 20-year-old was rather quiet during his rookie season, he now understands his integral his leadership role has to be for the overall success of his team. This coincides with the Lakers decision to make his a captain, something he didn’t find out about until the game was about to tip-off.
“I knew I would be a team leader, but I (found out about being a captain) when I went up with the referees. As a basketball player, you don’t think much about it until it happens. I’m just trying to be a leader.”
The Duke product stated his intentions entering the season, as he wants to be aggressive, fully invested in becoming a matchup nightmare.
This also resonates with his teammates, especially the veterans that have seen his progress day in and day out. Corey Brewer is predicting a breakout season for Ingram, while president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has set a hefty goal of averaging 20 points per game.
While it does add an extra responsibility to account for, Ingram doesn’t view the added tasks as a nuisance. In fact, he understands the expectations in store and is trying to live up to what many believe is in store. “It does, but we all take accountability for ourselves and the team. I know what coach Luke and all the coaches around here want from me. I just try to come in here and do that at every practice.”
With a newfound leadership role, Ingram will comprehend when he has to be vocally involved with his teammates. For example, Ingram confessed that he has been rather hard on Kyle Kuzma, because he sees the potential that he has entering his rookie season.