NBA Media Days are always filled with optimism. Every player is in the best shape of his life and has improved his jumper. The teams are all 0-0 and ready to put in the work needed to be better than anyone is giving them credit for. The guys are ready to show you what they’ve got. At Lakers Media day one thing is clear: the team believes a Brandon Ingram breakout is coming.
Lonzo Ball may be the “new” face of the Lakers, but based on the words actually coming out of people’s mouths — both players and members of the FO and coaching staff — it’s Ingram who is being looked at as the leader of the team.
Rob Pelinka said of the 2nd year forward that, Brandon was just a beast the way he worked this offseason. The way he was working the weight room and on the court, he’s a leader. He definitely has that Magic Johnson/Kobe Bryant mentality about him where if he sees you in his way, he’s going to find a way to go through you.”
When Magic was asked about Brandon, he seconded this idea of leadership and, even more, an expectation from those within the organization that he’s ready for big things:
Again, the optimism here is palpable. As fond of hyperbole as both Pelinka and Magic have been known to be since taking over the front office, I’m not sure they say these things unless they truly believe them. There’s gassing a player up, and then there’s simply stating what you believe is the truth. This seems like the latter with regards to how they’re discussing Ingram.
What do Ingram’s teammates have to say? Well, Lonzo says Ingram’s reputation of being “quiet” has not proven true, with Ingram serving as a vocal leader while on the court. Meanwhile, camp invite VJ Beachem lists Ingram (along with Kyle Kuzma) as the most difficult player to guard defensively. These are not world shattering quotes by any means, but I think the sentiment Ball and Beachem express are pretty much shared across the rest of the team and throughout the organization.
As for Ingram himself, he gave our own Pete Zayas some insight into how he might go about his business offensively this year and how effective he wants to be:
This approach lines up with what Ingram did in his lone summer league game in Las Vegas. In that game, Ingram did a fair amount of work coming off cross screens and pin downs in order to make catches in the shallow wing and elbow area. From there, he looked to create his own offense, shooting a variety of pull-up and turn around jumpers while also using the threat of that shot to try to get to the rim off the dribble. As Ingram explains, expect to see more of this during the preseason and into the regular campaign.
Whether Ingram can be effective at this style remains to be seen, but I have some optimism he’ll find his way. Maybe it’s the halo effect coming out of media day. Or maybe, the push Ingram made towards the end of the year is taking up space in my head. Either way, good feelings about Ingram’s future are in the air. Training camp begins tomorrow, we’ll see if that continues to be true.