NBA training camps are still under two months away from starting, but with the league releasing the schedule for the 2016-17 regular season, excitement is starting to build.
For Lakers fans, the excitement has been there ever since the team replaced Byron Scott with Luke Walton as the 26th head coach in franchise history. The buzz only continued to build after Los Angeles’ NBA Draft Lottery luck continued, landing the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
The pick netted the Lakers the latest cornerstone piece in their promising, young core in Brandon Ingram.
Ingram, a freakishly long, athletic sharpshooter out on the wing with tremendous potential on both ends of the floor, was exactly what the Lakers needed. His arrival has sparked high hopes from fans for the future of the franchise. Those expectations probably won’t be tested for at least a couple of seasons, but the 18-year-old from Duke wants to produce right away in purple and gold.
In an interview that included Mark Medina from the Los Angeles Daily News, Ingram admitted that he has his sights set on winning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award this season.
“That’s something that is on my mind,” Ingram said in a phone interview with Southern California News Group. “All rookies want to win Rookie of the Year. That’s something that drives me.”
Although Ingram hopes to make a name for himself in the NBA right out of the gate, he understands that he will have to endure his lumps as a rookie with the Lakers. People around him have noticed that he has a full understanding of that, including those at the NBA’s rookie transition program.
“Here’s a kid that really wants to excel,” said Purvis Short, NBAPA’s Director of Player Program. “He understands in order to do that, you have to humble yourself. He realizes that he doesn’t know everything. He was very open to all the information. I was very impressed.”
For any young player, the veterans around him can play a crucial part of their development by serving as a mentor while they get accustomed to the professional level.
The Lakers went out and signed Luol Deng this summer, who could not only prove to be an effective player for Los Angeles despite being on the wrong side of 30, but he is an ideal veteran to have around Ingram and the rest of the youngsters in the locker room. Ingram realizes that he can learn a lot from players like Deng as he continues to develop his game and gain experience.
“I have to listen to the vets and gain knowledge,” Ingram said. “I have to surround myself with the right people.”
While Los Angeles still contemplates what to do with Nick Young, having a trustworthy presence in Deng will be refreshing. Ingram still won’t be 19 years old until next month, but his understanding and maturity for someone so young should have fans excited.
Ingram appears to have the talent, skill set and poise necessary to develop into a special player for the Lakers. Next up will be the experience that comes with practice and game repetitions.
Growing pains could very well be on the horizon. Many fans seem to understand that with this young group. With Ingram and D’Angelo Russell spearheading a talented, young core, fans can’t wait for what could come after a few years of development.
Optimism appears to surround the Lakers for the first time in years, and Ingram is one of the many reasons for it.
For the full feature from Mark Medina, click here.