Brandon Ingram probably hasn’t had the season he was hoping for with the Los Angeles Lakers so far in 2018.
Heading into the year, the prevailing thought was that Ingram would be the closest thing to a secondary star the Lakers had for LeBron James. Ingram has been okay, averaging 15.2 points per game on 47 percent shooting (and 32.4 percent shooting from three), but his other averages are mediocre at best and his fit with James has been called into question.
That pairing hasn’t looked good by the eye test or by the metrics, which show that Ingram’s averages per-36 minutes are significantly better and more efficient when James is off the floor, per NBA.com. For a team that will be centered on James for the next several years, that’s far from ideal.
Ingram has still been genuinely good defensively, but it just hasn’t been the type of breakout season that many — including Ingram himself — were imagining over the summer.
However, Ingram told Mike Trudell on the latest episode of “Lakers Voices” that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has told him to relax about how things are going and not stress too much about his slow-ish start:
”I actually talked to Magic maybe a week ago I had the same conversation with him about just being patient. He was just telling me, know ‘it’s gonna come.’ With all the work that I put in this summer, just let it come and just have fun playing basketball.”
”You really don’t want to listen to everyone (about) playing basketball, because everybody is going to tell you what you want. But to hear it from a guy that’s been through it is better.”
This obviously isn’t the only reason it’s good for the Lakers that Johnson is around, but it’s one of them. You, me, a member of the Lakers coaching staff or anyone else can tell Ingram whatever we want about being patient and that he’ll likely keep improving, but those words are obviously going to mean a lot more coming from one of the greatest Lakers — and players — ever.
Too often we’re overly quick to rush to judgement on players. Ingram is only 21 years old, and has plenty of time to figure things out for himself. He also appears to have at least the rest of this season to explore how he fits with James, so when he gets back in the lineup after his sprained ankle is better, maybe he’ll come back with a newly patient mindset courtesy of Johnson. If he does, it could — at least in theory — allow him to relax, see where he can gel with James and continue to expand on the promise that led the Lakers to draft him second overall in 2016.