Back in May, the Los Angeles Lakers were thrilled to learn that they had kept the second overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, which would give them the opportunity to draft Duke forward Brandon Ingram. The talented 19-year-old has an intriguing skill set, with a great feel for the game and arms that seem to go on forever.
He is also level-headed and calm on and off the court, displaying a maturity beyond his years. Still, it would be nearly impossible for Ingram not to be somewhat overwhelmed right now. After all, he only spent a year in college, which means he isn’t that far removed from his high school days. To jump from that level to college and then to the NBA in such a short time span is quite an undertaking, especially for a high draft pick that is supposed to help bring the Lakers back from the cellar of the NBA.
So it’s understandable if Ingram felt a little bit of pressure during his first NBA preseason game. He told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News about his feelings entering the game for the first time:
“I’d probably be lying if I said I didn’t have nerves at all. I was just excited. I was excited to get my shot off. I was excited to get on the court.”
Ingram’s nervousness showed during Tuesday’s game, as he shot 0-5 and looked like he was overthinking things out on the floor. Fortunately, he found a way to still be effective by focusing on the defensive end, where he recorded two blocks and a steal while doing a solid job operating within the team’s scheme:
“I don’t think that I had the offensive game that I wanted to have. But I tried to attack the game in a different way. I tried to get after it defensively with steals. I tried to do something that would help the team.”
Some may have been disappointed in Ingram’s performance considering his lack of a field goal, but fans should be encouraged at his ability to make an impact on the game in different ways. Even if Ingram’s shot isn’t falling, he can make a difference on the other end of the floor.
It was a big moment for Ingram to put on his Lakers jersey and take the court for his first NBA game. Now that the first-game jitters have been dealt with, we should start to see what he can really do for the Lakers. It will take time, but the sky is still the limit for the Lakers lanky rookie.