The exit interviews on Thursday for the Los Angeles Lakers not only brought about an end to the 2016-17 NBA season, but also allowed a chance for the players, coaching staff and front office to reflect. The roller coaster ride of an 82-game season has many peaks and valleys, especially for rookies like Brandon Ingram that were adjusting to the NBA.
After a slow start and adjustment period to the physical and mental demands, Brandon Ingram burst onto the scene and captured the starting role up until his minute restrictions towards the end of the season. During this time, Ingram built confidence with each and every game, developing an offensive rhythm while on the court.
Head coach Luke Walton challenged his No. 2 overall pick, starting him against many of the elite players in the NBA. That challenge was yet another stepping-stone in the overall development on Ingram, as he got a chance to acclimate himself towards the competition level of the All-Stars in the NBA.
When asked to reflect upon his rookie campaign, reporters brought up his experience against facing off against fellow forwards such as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. Ingram responded by stating that he learned about their aggressive mentality and mindset required to succeed at the NBA level, via Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet:
Asked Ingram what he learned guarding LeBron, Durant, Kawhi, PG13: "Their mindset … they’re going to attack you every chance they get."
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 13, 2017
Each opposing player provides a distinct offensive approach, playing to their strengths. Ingram, whose body is still growing and developing, approached the challenge and seemingly learning with each and every game.
Ingram did have big performances against these playoff contenders, starting off with a strong performance against the Spurs. While battling defensively to stop Leonard, Ingram posted a career-high 22 points on February 26.
During the Lakers March 19th battle at home against James and the Cavaliers, Ingram contributed 18 points and six rebounds. Ingram also put one of his best performances against Paul George and the Indiana Pacers on January 20, with 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Ingram continues to pick up tidbits of information from each game and practice, while also taking in constructive criticism from the coaching staff and veterans on the team. Ingram faces a challenging upcoming offseason, filled with strength progression, development, and the NBA Summer League.
During his exit interview, the front office of the Lakers also suggested that Ingram work alongside Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. That opportunity would give Ingram a chance poke at the mind of Bryant, in order to properly dissect the expectations that come with being a young, promising talent.