The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the 2016-17 season on a high note in an otherwise rebuilding season. While the young core continued to develop throughout the season, rookies Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac were still adjusting to the NBA and style of play.
Ingram didn’t exactly get off to the start that many envisioned for the No. 2 overall pick, even though he faced an uphill challenge. Basketball aficionados constantly referred to Ingram’s lack of strength as the primary battle he had to overcome, in order to build that aggressive mentality.
At the same time, the Lakers understood that they were dealing with a 19-year-old player, who spent only one season at Duke University before embarking towards his journey in the NBA. In fact, his story somewhat resembles the path that Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had to undergo, dealing with high expectations coming at such a young age.
During the Lakers exit interviews on Thursday, Ingram was asked about various topics, stemming his rookie season experiences to his plans for the offseason. When asked about his intentions in relation to his physique and overall strength, the front office directed him towards working with Bryant, via Serena Winters of LakersNation.com:
Brandon Ingram said that working out with Kobe Bryant is actually something that came up in the exit meeting w/ Magic & Rob, and he plans to
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) April 13, 2017
During these exit interviews, Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton seemingly had a plan in store. The front office hopes that Ingram can learn from Bryant in multiple aspects throughout the offseason and not necessarily just about adjusting his body to the rigors of the NBA.
Now that the Blue Devil product has a full NBA season under his belt, he understands what he needs to improve on mentally, physically and overall in relation to his repertoire. Both Ingram and Bryant faced a similar situation at the beginning stage of their careers, with the weight of expectations on their young shoulders.
Ingram’s rookie season saw a spike in production as it progressed, building an aggressive offensive mentality. He also faced that same learning curve while in college, producing on a larger scale as he got acclimated to the competitive manner.
When the regular season concluded, Ingram finished with averages of 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Ingram shot 40.2 percent from the field while posting a sub-par 29.4 percent from three-point range. His shooting mechanics and confidence improved vastly as the season concluded, a strong sign heading into a crucial offseason.