Brandon Ingram dribbles against Julius Randle on December 8, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers

Ingram Gonna be a Probleeem

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

Last week, Blazers guard CJ McCollum was watching Brandon Ingram drop 32 points on Kevin Durant and the Warriors, and took the time to tweet the title of this article.

That, of course, was two games before what happened as the game clock ticked down in Philadelphia on Thursday night, when Ingram received a kick out pass from Lonzo Ball, and immediately rose from his spot on the right wing behind the 3-point line to try and break a 104-all tie.

Swish.

The ball sank through with 0.8 seconds on the clock, and after a desperation 26-footer from Philly missed by a mile, L.A. had secured a much-needed road victory.

Immediate results are often the focus of the 82-game NBA slog, and thus, snapping a 5-game losing streak was big for a young Lakers team that felt like it coulda/shoulda/woulda beaten the Clippers, Warriors and Nuggets within the last week.

As short-term results go, Brandon Ingram’s 21 points, seven boards, six assists and block brought his 10-game averages to a pretty impressive place:

LAST 10 GAMES

  • 19.3 points (.474 FG%, .353 3P%, .705 FT%)
  • 6.5 rebounds
  • 3.9 assists
  • 1.1 blocks

But take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and consider that Ingram just turned 20 in September. Consider that Paul George averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 boards and 1.1 assists as a 20-year-old. Or that Giannis Antetokounnmpo went for 12.7 points, 6.7 boards and 2.6 assists when he was 20.

Having a career progress like those two (long) wings is anything but a guarantee, but Ingram’s 16.2 points, 5.5 boards and 3.0 assists – numbers which clearly are rising based on his last 10 games – thus far combine with something else to allow for lots of optimism.

“What’s impressed me most about him is his work ethic,” said 10-year NBA vet Brook Lopez. “Obviously the things on the court are amazing, but to see him in the gym early in the morning, after practice, late at night … he’s always in there just grinding and working. You can see it paying dividends on the court.”

After the dagger in Philly, Jordan Clarkson said “He’s comin’’!”

Lonzo Ball explained why he agrees.

“When I got here in the summer, he was already the first one in the gym,” said L.A.’s fellow No. 2 overall pick. “I knew he was focused this year, wanted to do better than he did last year … he’s been carrying us. He’s just a unique player. He’s so long. He gets to the basket very easily. Every time he gets to the rim, something good happens, either finishing or he gets fouled. When he puts his mind to it, he’s very hard to stop.”

In short, Ingram is starting to put together the type of on-court performances that back up what some of us have been hearing about him from inside the Lakers’ facility.

All summer, coaches and scouts were mumbling about all the progress Ingram was making. Then a few minor injuries kept him from practicing in full throughout training camp, and he started a bit slowly. But he’s found his rhythm to the point that people outside of the building are noticing.

Towards that end, I asked Luke Walton how he felt about outside recognition of Ingram’s potential possibly impacting how attractive a situation the Lakers have moving forward.

“We don’t really care,” the coach said after Friday’s practice in Charlotte, whom L.A. face on Saturday. “We know what he’s capable of whether he’s getting the national love for it or not doesn’t affect what we’re trying to do or how he works.”

Walton explained that as soon as practice ended, Ingram got together with assistant coach Brian Keefe and did all his individual work, just the same as always.

“One of the things we like most about (Ingram) is he’s self-motivated,” said Walton. “He hit a huge shot last night and came in and did everything the same today as he would have if he missed that shot. We’re very pleased with him and the rest of the basketball world catching on is fine, but not a worry of ours.”

BROOK LOPEZ SENDS CAT TO SAFETY
As the Lakers took off for their flight on Wednesday morning, they saw a massive cloud of smoke hanging over much of Los Angeles, amidst the continuing, scary wildfires.

Starting center Brook Lopez actually has a home in Bel Air Crest, right off Getty Center Drive near some of the worst of the fires. Since Brook had to be at the airport to take off on the Lakers flight to Philadelphia at 9 a.m. on Friday morning, he only had a few moments to think about what to do when he woke up that morning. Among his primary concerns was his cat, Poupin, whom he did not want to leave at his house in case the fire spread.

As such, Lopez had the car service that dropped him off at the airport take Poupin up to Fresno, to his mom’s house, where he knew his cat would be safe. Meanwhile, as far as Brook knows, his house has been just fine, and was not damaged at all by the fires.

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