The Los Angeles Lakers are hopeful that second-overall pick Brandon Ingram will eventually become the star that their franchise badly needs. The Duke product has a number of tantalizing qualities, including a 7’3″ wingspan and the ability to hit the outside shot.
However, it’s one of Ingram’s often-overlooked qualities that may end up being the most important. For all of his physical skills, Ingram has a certain maturity to him that bodes well for his acclimation to the professional game and the city of Los Angeles. Despite being just 18 years old, he was impressive during his time at the NBA’s annual Rookie Transition Program, which gives rookies a crash course on becoming a professional athlete.
NBAPA Director Purvis Short was especially pleased with how Ingram handled himself (via Mark Media of the L.A. Daily News):
“Here’s a kid that really wants to excel. He understands in order to do that, you have to humble yourself. He realizes that he doesn’t know everything. He was very open to all the information. I was very impressed.”
While attending the RTP, which ran from August 7th through 11th, Ingram had an opportunity to get advice from a number of former players, including Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. Ingram seems to have a keen understanding of how easy it is for young athletes, suddenly flush with cash, to lose their way, and is being proactive to make sure it doesn’t happen to him. His brother Bo is coming to Los Angeles with him to help keep him on track:
“He’s here for a job. Just to keep me in the right spots and make sure I’m somewhere on time. He’s there to give me tough love, constructive criticism and help me with my game.”
In a city as fast-paced as Los Angeles, and on a team as high-profile as the Lakers, Ingram’s low-key, humble attitude will be beneficial.
Ultimately, it’s a player’s mental makeup that often determines whether or not they are able to maximize their physical skills, and so far Ingram is saying and doing all the right things to show that he is ready for the challenge.