The Lakers possess a pretty intriguing group of young players, and you can argue pretty easily that none of them boast as much superstar potential as third-year forward Brandon Ingram. While his rookie year wasn’t perfect, Ingram took a step forward last season, averaging 16.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game with 47 percent shooting from the field. Additionally, Ingram connected on 39 percent of his threes, a welcomed sign for a Lakers team that isn’t exactly loaded with shooters from the perimeter.
Coming into the 2018-19 campaign, there’s plenty of pressure on Ingram, who is expected to provide a scoring punch alongside LeBron James. The preseason isn’t always the best indicator of whether these sorts of things will happen, but on Thursday night, Ingram showed off the skills that reminded everyone why he went second in the 2016 NBA Draft. The third-year forward dropped 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting in a 128-123 win over the Sacramento Kings. Ingram also pulled down nine rebounds, dolled out three assists, accrued three steals, and blocked a shot.
It was the kind of all-around performance — highlighted by his ability to fill it up — that can prove invaluable as the Lakers try to make it to the postseason in the first year of the LABron era. Watch how effortlessly he was able to score from all over the floor against Sacramento.
What might be even more impressive, though, is when Ingram is able to use his size and length to his advantage on the defensive end. That was on display late in the game, when he more or less laughed at the Kings’ attempt to inbound the basketball.
If you watch until the end of the clip, you can see that James was excited about the defensive effort that Ingram put on display. It turns out that this wasn’t the only moment out of Ingram that impressed James, and after the game, the Lakers’ newest star expressed praise towards his new teammate.
“This is the year for him,” James said. “I believe in him. I know what his abilities are, just being around him for these first few weeks. Every big shot we needed, ever play we needed he made down the stretch, and I love seeing his growth.“
James wasn’t done piling on the praise, as he told the media after the game that he has a constantly-growing relationship with Ingram. He also took to social media once the game was over and expressed that Ingram will be “a problem” for other teams going forward.
Ingram turning into a No. 2 option isn’t going to make or break the Lakers’ season, but he is the guy who can make the whole “they need a second star next to LeBron” conversation look silly if a few things break right. As we saw on Thursday night, James agrees, and when he’s on his game, Ingram is capable of coming up big.