This season the Los Angeles Lakers will embark on their first journey without Kobe Bryant in 20 years. Bryant has become synonymous with the Lakers franchise and now fans everywhere are wondering who will be the player to eventually fill his shoes. One of the leading candidates is rookie Brandon Ingram.
The second pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the pressure will be on Ingram to produce and ultimately become a major factor for the Lakers sooner rather than later. When Ingram was given Kobe’s old locker at the team’s practice facility, the pressure seemingly ramped up even more.
Ingram recently played his first game at Staples Center as the Lakers fell 101-97 to the Denver Nuggets in their second preseason game. As is the case at the practice facility, Ingram has also inherited Kobe’s locker at Staples Center and he spoke about what that meant via Bill Oram of the OC Register:
“Somebody different is here after 20 years,” Ingram said. “We talk about a new era, this is definitely a new era for our guys to start a new journey […] I think it’s a message that they’re looking for somebody to step it up,” Ingram said, after scoring six points in Friday’s loss. “Of course, with the guys we have, it’s a lot only of guys that can step up and make up and make plays for other players.”
Ingram will certainly look to step up in the absence of Bryant and veteran, and former Kobe teammate Metta World Peace, believes he will thrive:
“With his talent and the organization giving him that locker, I think he’s in a good position,” veteran Metta World Peace said. “He wants it. He’s not afraid.”
Expecting Ingram to have the career of Kobe Bryant is unfair to the rookie as very few players will ever accomplish the things that Kobe did. The important thing for Ingram is to continue to grow throughout his rookie season.
He has struggled with his shot early on in his Lakers career, but has found a way to make an impact in other ways which is encouraging. Ingram doesn’t seem to be shying away from the pressure of filling in Kobe’s shoes, even if it that shouldn’t be placed solely on him.