EL SEGUNDO--- As the rest of the NBA continued to buzz over the Golden State Warriors setting off fireworks on the morning of July 4th when they added Kevin Durant, the Los Angeles Lakers introduced the largest additions of their own offseason, rookies Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac, at a press conference in their practice facility.
In the case of Ingram, the size of his addition is metaphorical and requires optimistic projections of the future. Still, from walking him past their championship trophies on the way to the presser, to giving him the retired Kobe Bryant's old locker on his first day at the team's practice facility, the team wasn't shy in expressing that they have big expectations for their second overall pick.
The quiet but self-assured Ingram isn't letting that vote of confidence go to his head, however. He knows that while he may be filling the Lakers legend's locker, he isn't anywhere near ready to fill his Nikes (and not just because he's signed with Adidas).
"Mitch told me I have some big shoes to fill, but I like the pressure that's on me right now," laughed Ingram, before later turning serious. "I can only do what I do well. There's no other Kobe Bryant."
Ingram may not be planning to replace Kobe, but he still thinks he can help this Lakers team start the road back to its former glory in other ways.
"Going into Duke University, I wasn't vocal at all," admitted Ingram. "But just learning under Coach K, you learn a lot of things." Those things included being more vocal with his teammates, and despite being the youngest player on the team, that's a quality Ingram wants to carry with him to the Lakers.
"[My goals are] just being the best player I can be, and being vocal and have other guys follow my lead."
That desire to lead comes out of a knowledge that he won't be alone in his efforts to restore the team's luster. Ingram likes what he's seen from his new teammates so far, and thinks the Lakers will surprise some people this season.
"We have a lot of young, good guys that like to work," said Ingram. "I just know, even though we're young, everyone is going to compete each and every night."
One of those young guys was sitting right next to Ingram, as the Lakers were also introducing their 32nd overall pick, Ivica Zubac, at the press conference.
If adding Ingram is figuratively the Lakers' largest addition of the summer, Zubac is literally their second largest, with Timofey Mozgov matching him in height but outweighing him by ten pounds. The seven-footer is fulfilling a childhood dream in joining the Lakers, so much so that joining the team has yet to even register as reality for him.
"I haven't realized yet [I'm on the] Lakers," smiled the seemingly affable Zubac. "When I realize, I will tell you."
That lack of realization and his lower draft slot leave Zubac much less pressure to immediately perform, and the Lakers' young, foreign project is glad to have the spotlight shining elsewhere as he grows into his frame.
"He can have the pressure," Zubac laughed when asked if he was jealous of Ingram getting Bryant's old locker.
Still, the big Croatian does want to surprise some people. "Nobody is expecting too much from me," acknowledged Zubac. "But I want to prove them wrong."
Both rookies expressed a desire to work hard and be coachable, two necessary qualities if they want to fulfill their big goals. Part of their motivation will be a situation they both expressed eagerness to join, and while Zubac's lifelong Lakers fandom essentially guaranteed he'd be happy in the organization, there is nowhere Ingram would rather be, either.
"It's always been my dream to play at this level," said Ingram. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
All quotes obtained firsthand. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.