Other than that LeBron James guy, the player who has raised the most eyebrows over the course of the three preseason games played in by the Los Angeles Lakers thus far has probably been Brandon Ingram. Dating back to media day, he’s just seemed different, and it starts with confidence.
He sat down for a profile with Bill Oram of The Athletic, and stated a goal that really hammers home just how good he feels about the progress he’s made over the summer and in training camp:
“I want to be an All-Star,” he told The Athletic. “I want to be an All-Star this year.”
In the crowded Western Conference, the declaration may sound ambitious, to say the least. But Ingram doesn’t think so.
“Sounds pretty realistic to me,” he said.
Before we get into what he consider his actual chances of living up to this goal, it’s important to point out how great it is that Ingram is comfortable setting his sights so high. Shoot for the moon, you might land on a star. Yes, it will be an uphill (read: vertical) climb to accomplish this, but when you consider how far Ingram has come since his disappointing rookie season, that development is really all that matters.
If we’re being honest, though, it would be truly shocking if this goal came to fruition.
For one thing, the Western Conference is absolutely loaded in regards to forward depth. LeBron James will almost certainly be a starter on one wing, with Kevin Durant and/or Paul George probably on the other. Remember, the NBA took out bigs from the starting lineup, so technically, Ingram has to also compete with guys like Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and Karl-Anthony Towns. We have to see how the Jimmy Butler situation turns out, but he’d also get the nod over Ingram right now.
This might not even be a talent-level thing, either (though all the players listed above are better players than Ingram right now). Everyone listed in the graf above will also have more opportunity on the ball than Ingram will, and, while it’s altogether possible that Ingram puts it together defensively to have an immense impact on the Lakers’ success, that’s not really how fans, media or coaches think when dolling out their All-Star votes.
Another thing to keep in mind here is how slow the NBA has been to give credit as young players burst onto the scene. In any kind of award, the voting is usually about a year behind the actual reality of the situation.
Look, it would be great to see Ingram live up to his lofty expectations. The fact that we’re here having this conversation is indicative of how obviously he’s flipped the narrative since his up-and-down (and mostly down) rookie campaign.
If Ingram is very obviously a net-positive on a Lakers team turning things around and fits alongside LeBron, that’s really all that matters. Other accolades will come in time.
And, as LeBron has pointed out on several occasions, Ingram’s time is coming.