The preseason has been quite the struggle for the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2016 No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram. After a summer full of working out and heavy expectations sent his way, the 20-year old forward struggled mightily in the Lakers’ six preseason games, averaging just 10.4 points on 37.3 percent field goal shooting.
However, despite the struggles, the Lakers and Ingram himself are still optimistic heading into the season.
From ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk:
“Offensively, it is not going so well,” Ingram said earlier this preseason. “At all.”
Ingram wasn’t just stuck in neutral with his offensive game this preseason. The soft-spoken and friendly swingman admits he was downright miserable because he wasn’t seeing the results of his grueling offseason program. It became so noticeable that Johnson and head coach Luke Walton had to tell Ingram to not worry about everything and just have fun on the court again.
“I would go home sometimes and I got family at home trying to make me laugh, make me smile and they know there is something wrong with me,” Ingram said. “I am not usually like that, not smiling a lot, not talking a lot. They are just trying to do everything in my power to make me smile. They joke or try to take my mind off with encouraging words.”
The pressure has not-so-slowly mounted on Ingram after Magic Johnson spent much of the preseason talking about the expectation of Ingram being a 20-point-per-game scorer.
To Ingram’s credit, he still believes he can be a 20-point scorer, even if it’s proven to be a lofty bar.
“Twenty points is five points a quarter,” Ingram said. “When you believe in yourself as much as I do, I think it is very possible [to meet Johnson’s expectations]. For me this preseason, I got a chance to reflect and try to figure out how I can do that.”
While Ingram’s struggles have been noticeable, he’s still receiving support not just from the Lakers’ front office and coaching staff, but from one of the top players in the league.
But other veterans around the league, such as a fellow slender No. 2 overall pick Kevin Durant — a player with whom Ingram was compared before the draft — have also passed along some wisdom. “[Durant] is always sending me motivational things. Though some things may need to be censored,” Ingram told Yahoo Sports. “He sees a lot in me. He actually told me to block out everything and be the killer that I am. To get a lot of guys around this league that see what I can be, it does nothing but make me want to work harder.”
It’s clear the pressure is on Ingram this season as the Lakers have doubled down on their new dynamic duo. However, with Ingram being just 20 years old, it’s important for fans, the front office and the coaching staff alike to remain patient moving forward.