Two minutes into the preseason opener in San Diego, newly acquired 14-time All Star LeBron James threw a no-look pass to a cutting Brandon Ingram for a slam dunk. This was the start of King James career with the Los Angeles Lakers and the beginning of an incredible opportunity for Ingram.
As Ingram enters his third season in the NBA, expectations to deliver for the Lakers franchise will only increase. What no one anticipated was Ingram’s opportunity to play alongside one of the greatest to ever play the game.
His skill set is unique. He can score against anyone in the league, but also has the ability to be an elite defender. Ingram can grab a rebound and start a fast break as well as orchestrate an offense at the point guard position.
What Ingram does not have is playoff experience or championship pedigree. That can all change this season. The moment James announced he was committing to the Lakers, expectations for the franchise changed overnight. It is no longer acceptable to miss the playoffs.
It is no longer acceptable to mediocre. Eyes will be all over the Lakers this year and many people think the Lakers will go as far as Ingram and the supporting cast takes them. People know what to expect from the veterans (James, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, etc.).
Lonzo Ball should grow in his second season, building off his all-round game, further improving his ability to make everyone on the court better.
Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart have specific roles and should benefit from the new veteran leadership. But Ingram has the ability to take his game to another level. As he enters his third season, he’s already ahead of his peers at this stage of his career.
Ingram averaged 16, 5 and 4 in his sophomore season. In comparison, below are the stats of All-Stars Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo in there respective seasons in the NBA.
George: 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Hayward: 11.8, 3.5, 3.1
Leonard: 11.9, 6.2, 1.6
Antetokounmpo: 12.7, 6.7, 2.6
Without a second All-Star on the Lakers, Ingram gives them the best option to be the ‘go-to’ player alongside James. He showed flashes of that ability through the preseason.
And during that time, one thing became very clear: James strongly believes in Ingram. Not only has he gone out of his way to talk about it to the media before and after games, he’s gone out of his way to show it on the court.
The best player in the world is looking for a 21-year-old to be an integral part of taking this franchise where it belongs, the Postseason. No other player in the league may have the opportunity Ingram has in front of him. He has a franchise led by Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson, a teammate many consider on the Mount Rushmore of all-time greats, and a fan base that appreciates his talent.
All of that is to go along with Ingram’s humble approach on and of the floor. The Ball is in Ingram’s court.
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