The Los Angeles Lakers are set to embark on the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season under a new regime of talent. In a rather unfamiliar feeling for Lakers fans, the young core will now take the next step in their careers around the veteran presences head coach Luke Walton has acquired.
With the franchise entering a new phase of their rich history, many are anxious to see the next step players like D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle will take under their new head coach.
The Lakers, who are set to run an up-tempo style offense, will have a lot to prove this season. After finishing last season with a record of 17-65, the Lakers used the second overall pick in the NBA Draft on Brandon Ingram, a forward from Duke.
While the 6’9″, 190-pound 19-year-old possesses a thin frame entering his rookie season, he has worked at adding strength. Although many point at that slender frame as Ingram’s weakness entering his rookie season, some would say it should be his inexperience. Many veterans attest to the physical demands a NBA season requires, taking a toll on their bodies.
Walton, a 10-year veteran of the NBA, seems to agree on it being Ingram’s biggest problem, via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“No player has ever been through that until you get to the NBA,” Walton said. “It’s exhausting until your body gets used to it and adjusts to it. It takes time. The biggest challenge for him will be figuring out the best way to manage that, still train and take care of himself. The on-court stuff and his play will be just fine. It’ll be the challenge of the 82 game season he might struggle with.”
The miles traveled, along with the ups and downs of the season, can take a toll on players. While everything will be a new experience for Ingram, he still will have to adjust and grow his game.
Walton was adamant that Ingram will not start to begin the season, a job likely going to Luol Deng.
However, Ingram is motivated to prove his worth to Walton, and gain the trust of his coach. When asked how the rookies will be managed in regards to minutes, Walton gave a straightforward response:
“You develop the young core by rewarding them when they play well.”
Ingram will be under the scrutiny of the public eye his rookie season, which Russell stated Ingram should embrace.
Many players, such as Andre Iguodala, seem to believe the North Carolina native has a strong career ahead of himself. Fellow 2016-17 rookies also voted Ingram as the most likely to have the best career. Now the pressure will be on Ingram to prove them all right.