This coming season, the Los Angeles Lakers head into the year with realistic expectations. The team wants to win more than 17 games, which they achieved in the previous campaign. With a new head coach in Luke Walton and a young roster, the future finally looks bright again in Los Angeles. The Lakers have had a hectic off-season; General Manager Mitch Kupchak drafted Brandon Ingram No.2 overall in this year’s NBA draft. Free agency saw the Lakers spend big, but the team failed to sign a star.
So with an off-season full of both disappointment and optimism, the Lakers look ahead to a new season with hopes of improvement. One of the players who will be key to that improvement and growth is Ingram. Today, we will be focusing on Ingram and the Lakers’ decision to begin the season with the promising draft pick on the bench. This is a decision that has some Lakers fans scratching their heads.
Brandon Ingram Coming Off The Bench
Head coach Luke Walton has made the brave decision to begin the new season with his No. 2 overall pick coming off the bench. This move has disappointed some Lakers fans, as many expected the exciting rookie to start from day one. In Ingram’s place, veteran Luol Deng will likely start at the small forward spot in game one of the year against the Houston Rockets. Ingram has a very bright future and offers the Lakers a lot. He is a player who can defend well with good length, but also has the ability to shoot from all over the court.
Walton will use Ingram as a shooter off the bench and will evaluate the forward’s situation as the season goes on. Lakers fans have embraced Ingram; this was evident during this year’s NBA Summer League. Every time the rookie got a touch of the ball, the crowd in Las Vegas would cheer. Ingram, along with his fellow young Lakers, put on a great display during the tournament.
Why Ingram Will Benefit
Ingram is clearly talented, but this time on the bench will be key to his development. Throwing Ingram into the deep end could do all kinds of damage. Remember, Ingram is one of the youngest rookies in the association. Plus, it really is the deep end. The Lakers are not going to be good this year. Enthusiastic Lakers fans may disagree, but the talent doesn’t lie. The Lakers are young and Ingram is younger. With a first-year head coach in Walton, there is good reason to be patient with the young rookie.
Coming off the bench isn’t the worst thing to happen to a rookie. Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Alonzo Mourning and Kevin McHale all started their careers on the bench. It’s happened before and players do benefit from sitting early on. The No. 2 overall pick will put up good numbers off the bench, and should be in the hunt for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Ingram will be given the opportunity to learn and develop at his own pace. The young forward will be involved in a support system that hopes he will develop into an all-star. Ingram is a long term project of the Lakers, as the team believes they have something special on their hands.
Ingram’s Thoughts On Media Day
Last week the NBA had its first Media Day of the season. All 30 NBA teams around the country were questioned and interviewed on the upcoming season. The Lakers were of course involved and Ingram took questions on his future and his first season.
Ingram had this to say during Lakers Media Day.
“That drives me, if it was given, it wouldn’t drive me as much to be the best player that I can be. Just coming off the bench and showing that I can be one of the best players on the floor, I think it just gives me motivation to work hard each and every day.”
Ingram has a great attitude, that alone will take him along way. The rookie out of Duke University knows that if he is to reach his goal of being a starter, he must stay positive. Head coach Walton knows that down the line, Ingram is going to start. Potentially, Ingram won’t even spend an entire season on the bench. If the Lakers season goes in the direction many predict it will, then Ingram could see himself starting by the all-star break.