The 2016-2017 NBA season did not start particularly well for No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram. While the Los Angeles Lakers began with something of a bang in the form of a 10-10 record, the 19-year-old forward struggled mightily to live up to that draft position with inefficient and ineffective play on the floor. However, Ingram flashed the considerable potential that made him a tantalizing draft choice by scoring in double-figures in 16 of the team’s final 17 games and things are looking up with regard to his prospect star at this stage.
In that spirit, the Los Angeles Times brings word from Ingram, who spoke extensively at his official exit interview on Thursday. While many things are worth parsing, one tidbit emerged that is particularly noteworthy and that is the potential partnership between Ingram and Kobe Bryant. Ingram indicated that new Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, along with Magic Johnson, put the bug in his ear about picking Bryant’s brain and the soon-to-be sophomore seems receptive.
“Just saying what I should look for in this organization, how I should be in this organization. They definitely thought Kobe should be one of the people I should talk to just about how he felt at 19 years old, 20 years old being in this organization.”
While Bryant may not seem like the most natural mentor, Pelinka reportedly said that the future Hall of Fame “has been receptive to working with lots of players in the offseason” and that could extend to Ingram in the near future. Bryant’s tutelage could certainly help to provide Ingram with the always coveted “killer instinct” and there are certain tricks of the trade that the youngster could learn in a hurry when interacting with another former Lakers teenager.
For good measure, Lakers head coach Luke Walton also seems to be fully on board with this idea.
“I can coach Brandon, [but] Brandon’s a much better basketball player than I was. There’s certain players that need guidance from certain players. Brandon is one of those players. … He can learn a lot from someone like Kobe that’s been through it and has a certain kind of skill at a level that’s much higher than me or anyone on our staff had.”
Walton played at a (much) higher level than some NBA head coaches could ever dream but there is probably something to be said for the fact that he was not the “go-to” type of player that Los Angeles drafted Ingram to be. There are still full-fledged questions about the kind of player that the former Duke star can be, but Brandon Ingram’s overall talent remains quite impressive and the Lakers could be looking to an old friend to help unlock it.