Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has made figurative strides as long as his actual legs this season, showing the type of growth all teams hope for from sophomores selected with the second overall pick the prior year.
Ingram is currently dealing with a nagging ankle injury, but it hasn’t stopped him from ranking second on both the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game to go with his 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Those stats also aren’t the only way Ingram is leading.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton told Bill Oram of the Southern Calfornia News Group that Ingram’s off-the-floor leadership qualities are starting to blossom now that the second-year forward is showing his teammates his reliability and the full scope of his skills:
“You can see it when you’re around him every day,” Walton said. “You see how the guys react to him. … That comes from being a leader. They look at him and they get confidence from him when he’s playing well. When we need a bucket, they call his number out there to get him the ball.”
Ingram has been reliable for the Lakers in the situations Walton describes. Of his baskets, 58 percent of Ingram’s field goals this season have been unassisted. Moreover, he’s getting to the basket with far more frequency in his second season than his first and shooting 57.4 percent once he gets there.
Players in their second year almost never fully take over and lead a team, but Ingram is following the typical playbook on how to get there. After a rough rookie season, Ingram is showing the rest of the Lakers that he is dependable on the court as a go-to guy.
And as his skills continue to grow, players will want to follow him more naturally not just because he’s older, but because he’s one of the best players on the team.
Ingram doesn’t figure to reach his full potential for a few years, but it sounds like he won’t have any problems stepping into a leadership role once he gets there.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB