While Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton felt the team didn’t have a definitive star or closer on the roster last season, Brandon Ingram more times than not had plays drawn up for him in late-game situations.
Of course, with the Lakers signing LeBron James in free agency, those opportunities for Ingram figure to decrease. But that type of change is not something the young forward considers daunting.
“I don’t think of it as pressure,” Ingram said after practice. “I naturally just try to find the open spot. I think it’s a matter of me being ready to catch the ball, with all the guys that can pass the basketball.”
Ingram has shown a bit of a refined jump shot thus far during training camp, with a release that’s smoother than previously seen from him. Ingram, James, Lance Stephenson and Kyle Kuzma gained a bit of revenge on Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Wednesday’s three-point shootout.
It’s an area Ingram feels prepared to contribute in. “I’m ready for that,” he said of potential catch-and-shoot opportunities. “I’m ready to score the basketball.”
In Walton’s view, Ingram will also need to capitalize on movement off ball. Much has been made of the passing component James, Rondo and Lonzo Ball will bring to this year’s team.
“Brandon is very good at creating shots for himself and using his length to draw fouls, so we’re still going to put him in those opportunities where he’s proven to us he can succeed,” Walton said.
“Now, it’s going to be really important for him this year to constantly be looking to cut without the ball and take advantage of having the other team’s third-best defender on him.”
Like he did at Lakers Media Day, Ingram pointed to consistency as being key to making another leap in his development. He’s also eager to learn from veterans on the Lakers roster.
“I’m looking forward to picking everyone’s brain. I want to learn something from everybody,” Ingram said. “Whether it’s how Lance or KCP guard on the defensive end, whether it’s how LeBron, how ‘Zo, how Rondo passes the basketball.”
Ingram even sees a chance to grow from rookie Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. “I might learn from Svi, he can shoot the damn basketball really good,” Ingram marveled.