Julius Randle shoots at practice on Jan. 9, 2017.
(J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com)

Lakers Self-Evaluate at Season's Midpoint

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Exactly halfway through his first season in the NBA, Brandon Ingram is at last seeing the hours he has put in the gym translate to his scoring numbers.

The 19-year-old has tied his career-high of 17 points in back-to-back contests — both of which were victorious for the Lakers — helping move on from a December that saw him average 7.1 points on just 33.6 percent shooting.

“I think (it’s) the focus: being locked in every day for practice and shootaround,” he said. “I think the focus has been there not only for myself, but for my teammates. The focus has been there at practice and the energy has been good.”

The Lakers have begun the 2017 calendar year by winning three of their first five contests. Ingram said that the team was “tired of the result we were getting” when they went 2-14 in the previous month.

Now, in spite of that ugly December, the Lakers are 15-26 and sit only two games back of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

But the players’ minds are more on development than a postseason chase, and they say that their potential lies in their own hands.

“Coaches aren’t gonna be on you as much as if you were in college,” Randle said. “They’re not gonna be on your back all day. It’s something you’ve got to be as a professional, even though Coach (Luke) Walton does a good job of challenging us every day.

“As professionals, it’s our job to really hold ourselves accountable to our potential of what we can do.”

Ju & Coach

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But Randle and his fellow players aren’t the only ones working to achieve their potential.

As the league’s youngest coach, Walton himself is still figuring out how to best serve the team in his first year at the helm.

“I’m a very young coach,” the 36-year-old said. “I’m learning more about how to coach — what’s the most effective way to do it. I’m learning more about my players, how we grow as a team, how we learn best.”

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