The marathon NBA season isn’t an easy one, testing both the physical and mental durability of players across the league. With a seemingly never-ending slate of games packed into the schedule, it can be difficult for players, especially young ones like those on the Los Angeles Lakers, to stay sharp.
Witht that being the case, the Lakers looked forward to the short reprieve that the All-Star break provided, particularly Brandon Ingram who has settled into a groove of late as the team’s de facto point guard. “I definitely think it’s a good time for a break,” he said at the Rising Stars Challenge.
“With everything that I’ve done over these last couple of months and last couple weeks, it’s a good time to reflect on the first half of the season and come back and try to be even better in the second half and make a bigger push for what we’re doing for our organization.”
As Ingram mentioned, the hustle and bustle of the season provides little time for reflection or introspection. Players need time to regroup, and with over a week off, the hope is that Ingram and the Lakers will be able to get their minds right while also giving their tired bodies a chance to recover from a grueling season.
“Definitely mentally more than physical,” Ingram said of fatigue this year compared to his rookie season. “Going through it last year, I know what to expect. Mentally, it’s taking on more responsibility, becoming a leader and just trying to figure out different schemes of how I can be the best player on the floor every single night.”
Of course, every player is different, but most will try to find a way to escape from basketball for a bit to recharge their batteries.
Ingram, who has been tasked with becoming a leader on the Lakers despite being just 20 years old, played in the Rising Stars Challenge last Friday night, but after that planned to set aside a few days to step away from the game.
“Getting away from basketball. At least for one or two days just try to live a regular life,” he said. “Having those two days to reflect on how I could be better, how I could make the team better, how our team could be better, basically just getting away from basketball, period.”
While we extoll the virtues of Kobe Bryant’s workaholic approach, that won’t bring success for every player. As we learn more about the human body and how it responds to stress, we develop a greater appreciation for the importance of recovery. Ingram hopes that this break will allow his mental focus to improve during the home stretch of the season.
“Last year, I think my approach was to really make a conscious effort of being better after the All-Star break. It’s the same this year, but even more so, the mental part of the game is what I want to work on in the second half of the season,” Ingram explained.
While the playoffs appear very unlikely for the Lakers, the final months of the season will provide Ingram and the rest of the team with an opportunity to prove to the NBA that they are one of the top up-and-coming teams in the league.
With an important summer looming and a number of key free agents available, the Lakers will need all the positive momentum they can get heading into the offseason.
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