Heading into his first full summer as an NBA player, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram says he’s focused on what anyone who watched him play this season would expect.
Ingram says he wants to bulk up. He says he wants to improve on both ends of the floor.
What might surprise those who have watched Ingram, including Ingram himself, is the goal he shared most vocally at his exit interview with the media.
“I see myself as a leader on the basketball court,” Ingram said. “I’ve actually became more vocal on the basketball court. When the mentality and the focus is there, you kind of shock yourself a little bit.”
One player who certainly never lacked the ability to be vocal on the court was the player who previously occupied Ingram’s locker, and the new Lakers front office of team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka wants Ingram to learn from Kobe Bryant this summer.
“They definitely thought Kobe should be one of the people I should talk to,” Ingram said of his summer plans, which also “definitely” include playing in Las Vegas Summer League.
As for the prior season, Ingram acknowledged that he struggled, but felt he got better as the season went along.
“I think I definitely improved over the season,” Ingram said. “Especially in the month of January and after All-Star a little bit.”
Ingram credited reflection and watching film on what he could do better over the All-Star break for his improvement, a process that resulted in averages of 14 points on 46.3 percent shooting with 3.8 assists and 2.6 assists over the Lakers’ final 15 games.
The rookie forward blamed part of his struggles earlier in the season on the process of adjusting to the NBA game.
“More smart basketball,” Ingram said of the biggest difference between the NBA and NCAA. “The foul calls. It’s a faster pace with a 24-second shot-clock, and more smart shots.”
While those issues will in all likelihood keep Ingram from his goal of winning Rookie of the Year, he said that wasn’t his main plan for the season anyway.
“My goals were really just to get better,” Ingram said. “Especially the second half of the season I just wanted to get better. I was looking at the future of Lakers basketball, which I want to be a part of.”
The front office and Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton sound like they want him to be a part of that future.
“We knew it was going to be a process,” Ingram said. “They loved the progress that we made after the All-Star break, just playing winning basketball and sharing the ball.”
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. All quotes transcribed via Periscope. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our thoughts on the season below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.