Part of the Los Angeles Lakers grand scheme involves the development of Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball as the cornerstones of the franchise. The front office is heavily relying on their progression this season as the pillars that can not only elevate the team but also draw in potential free agents in the upcoming 2018 free agency class.
At the same time, it is easy to forget that Ingram, 20, and Ball, 19, are still learning the ins and outs of the NBA, with Ball still yet to play an NBA game. However, their small sample size has their teammates, coaches, and fans excited for what is to come.
With training camp kicking off, the NBA realm will soon find out how consistently they have been improving their game this offseason.
The Lakers officially have begun training camp, with their first preseason game coming up on Saturday. Forward Larry Nance Jr. chimed in on Ingram’s progression thus far, stating that he has surprised everyone, but also sees where his next step should be, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Larry Nance Jr. said the biggest difference w/ Brandon Ingram this year is his confidence, but would still like to hear him talk even more.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) September 27, 2017
Lakers fans got a preview of this newfound confidence and leadership, when Ingram stated that he has been hard on rookie Kyle Kuzma thus far. Not only is it a form of constructive criticism, but it is also a sign of the expectations Ingram has in store for his team and their potential.
Speaking of potential, the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League was a prime example of a coming out party for Ingram, as he exploded for 26 points in limited action against the Los Angeles Clippers. After an injury scare, the Lakers elected to play the safe route and hold him out for the remainder of the games, understanding his crucial role this upcoming season.
General manager Rob Pelinka also had some praise for Ingram during media day, stating that Ingram has that Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant mentality instilled in him. The North Carolina native was regularly the first one in the gym throughout the offseason, earning the respect of his Lakers teammates. Although Ingram’s vocal and emotional outbursts remain rather limited, he has found a comfortable situation and confidence to thrive with.