Slow start won’t hamper Brandon Ingram’s confidence

Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram has struggled transitioning his offensive  game to the NBA.

Since being drafted with the second  overall selection in this summers draft, the Duke standout has been heavily criticized for his lanky frame and some have questioned his ability to endure the physical pounding that NBA bodies succumb to.

These arguments don’t hold much weight with many in the NBA community. The same people criticizing Ingram’s weight probably labeled KD and Kevin Garnett too frail as well.

Regardless of the nitpicking that Ingram has been victim to, the Lakers forward has proven to be an asset on the defensive end, using his elite length(7’3’’ wingspan) and athleticism to harass opponents, blocking shots and forcing turnovers.

The rookie makes up for what he lacks in polish with hustle and heart, something that is always a positive sign in young players. Those around Ingram rave about his humble attitude and killer work ethic.

Ingram finished his lone season at Duke with high accolades, winning ACC player of the year and averaging 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

Brandon Ingram looks to be "that" for the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline
Brandon Ingram looks to be “that” for the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

The McDonald’s All-American was known for his 3-point shooting ability and all around skills. After playing with the Team USA Select team, Ingram found high praise from superstar Kevin Durant, who claimed the young Laker reminded him of himself, just “a little further ahead at his age”.

Such compliments encouraged Lakers fans and mounted pressure on Ingram. Suddenly the skinny kid from North Carolina was the heir apparent to Kevin Durant.

That’s why some have been so disapointed in Ingram’s Summer League and preseason performances. The rookie has yet to have a solid offensive outing, let alone a complete game.

During the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League, Ingram took some time to find his shot, but eventually ended the tournament with an average of 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while making just over 40% of his shots. Not horrible numbers, but not nearly as impressive as Minnesota’s Kris Dunn, who dominated with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists per game with a staggering 54% on field goal attempts.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Dunn is the better player, but it doesn’t help Ingram’s case either.

The North Carolina native has excelled in practice and during scrimmages, bringing high praise from teammates and coaches alike. Newly minted head coach Luke Walton commended  Ingram on his work this summer, explaining to media members that, “you can tell he’s been coached and he’s been … parented correctly. He’s an incredible person. He competes. He does what you ask of him. He hasn’t complained once since he’s been here all summer.”

There’s no doubt that Ingram is a hard worker and a good person, but the young forward still needs to prove himself among the NBA and Lakers fans alike.

In his first two preseason games Ingram showed great promise on the defensive end, boasting amazing length and visibly disrupting opposing offenses.

Unfortunately he has continued to search for an offensive game of his own. The rookie missed all five of his shot attempts in his pre-season debut against the Sacramento Kings.

While he only managed to score from the free throw line, Ingram showed poise in the Lakers come from behind win.

Even though his shot wasn’t falling, Ingram never looked discouraged and continued to play hard on both ends of the court. Unlike many scorers, Ingram is never looking to force his shot, and is content doing all of the little things that don’t end up in the stat sheet.

Ingram made his Staples Center debut Friday night, and in turn made the first field goal of his NBA career, throwing down an alley-oop.

While he finally got a bucket, points were hard to come by for the number two pick as he finished with 6-points on 2-8 shooting.

Walton has taken note of the rookies persistence, and claimed after the game that the young man’s confidence has yet to falter.

“We’ll deal with that when we get to it, right now his confidence is great. If he ever does struggle with confidence, we’ll be there as a staff,” Walton said. “I would expect his teammates to be there for him. Because everyone has gone through rookie years.”

Even though Ingram hasn’t exactly shown flashes of offensive dominance, the rookie is anything but discouraged as his first NBA campaign goes underway, and rightly so.

The Duke product has proven he can use his length and skill to lead a team defensively, and his confidence is high that he can become the next great Laker.

Joey Thomas
About Joey Thomas 23 Articles
Joey Thomas is a Los Angeles native and an NBA junkie. Follow him on twitter and instagram @joeythomasss