Brandon Ingram looked too skinny, wearing the purple and gold uniform. Then the ball was passed to him and he quickly lost his defender with a fake and rose high for a dunk during the Lakers’ first day in the NBA Summer League.
The hopes of a new leader and a better Lakers team elevated with him.
“He’s got a presence on the floor. He’ll handle the ball. He’ll direct people around. He’s got an uncanny knack for anticipation.” Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers’ general manager said.
Brandon Ingram didn’t seem pressured despite the expectations for the team. In fact, he didn’t look like a rookie at all. He was confident, and he never forced things.
People think he’s too thin, too soft, and yet they expect him to fill in for Kobe Bryant’s shoes and lead the team back to championship caliber again.
The expectations can be absurd at times, especially for an 18-year-old, but Ingram said, “Coming into this game, I wasn’t nervous at all, which was surprising,” as his team beat the New Orleans Pelicans 85-65.
He scored 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 assist, which reflects his versatility on the basketball court. Most importantly, he was a fluid part of the game and did not try to force his way around.
His nerves will be tested as he faces rival, Ben Simmons and Philadelphia 76ers this Saturday. But Kupchak believes Luol Deng will be able to teach the rookie valuable lessons in leadership; that he could improve much more with proper guidance.
Ingram made it clear from day one that he intends to bring leadership to the team and it seems like he is up to a good start. And nobody seems surprised at all.
His teammate Larry Nance Jr. said, “Same thing — kid can play. He can do it in a lot of different ways — shooting and driving, and I think we saw a dunk. He’s just extremely versatile and I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
He needs to build more muscle, put more weight, and develop more strength. But it’s clear at the onset that he fits in well.
Photo courtesy: Lakers logo/ Wikimedia Commons