The Los Angeles Lakers and Brandon Ingram are both off to their strongest starts in a while, with Ingram breaking out individually while the team shows the most sustainable defensive potential it has in years.
After a disappointing and difficult rookie campaign, Ingram is averaging career-highs across the board with 16.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while also showing glimpses of the defensive ability so many projected for him heading into the 2016 NBA Draft.
His defensive improvement has been shared by the rest of the roster, as the team ranks ninth in the league in defensive efficiency. The Lakers are allowing 103.3 points per 100 possessions, aptitude precisely no one expected heading into the year.
While some of the young players are benefitting from a previous year of NBA experience, Ingram noted improved chemistry, in particular with second-year head coach Luke Walton, via Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:
“Chemistry-wise, we’re really good. Everybody gets along. Me and Coach Walton have a really good relationship. I can always go to him, even to talk about things that I don’t like. We’ve developed a relationship where we can always talk about the different things that we’re seeing on the floor. We discuss how we can get better [as a team] and how I can get better individually.”
With that type of chemistry and ability to constructively critique each other, it makes sense that the Lakers are showing the type of growth they’ve displayed this season.
Walton has talked about how much importance he’s placing on developing a culture for the team since basically the moment he was hired, a sentiment that was echoed by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka when they took over the front office midway through last season.
It appears to be working, and while it might not result in a playoff spot this season, the Lakers are taking baby steps forward.
If the chemistry they’re building is sustainable, then it could result in the type of environment in which championship teams are forged in the years to come as well as looking like an attractive place for free agents to spend their time.
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