Brandon Ingram stock isn’t as easy to come by as it was earlier this season. In the absence of LeBron James, Ingram has stepped up and been everything the Los Angeles Lakers have needed him to be.
Over the last three games, Ingram has averaged 20 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 blocks per game while posting a box plus-minus of +8, the highest on the team since James suffered his groin strain on Christmas Day.
Ingram’s best game during that stretch came on Sunday, when he put up an impressive stat line of 21 points on 69.2 percent shooting from the field, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in the Lakers’ win against the Sacramento Kings.
That all-around game is what makes Ingram such a tantalizing prospect, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together on very many occasions this season, and no one is more aware of that than Ingram himself.
“(Facilitating for teammates is) kind of something that I was supposed to be doing anyway. I was too into myself, trying to score the basketball a little bit too much, and (now) I just try to play my game and get everybody involved, because with a team effort and everybody comfortable on a basketball floor you see guys like KCP and Josh Hart getting their room and knocking down 3-pointers.
“It was important for me to get guys involved so they can be comfortable in the fourth quarter when it comes down to the wire.”
While Walton didn’t exactly agree with Ingram’s self assessment, he told reporters at practice on Tuesday that he understands where Ingram is coming from and has been encouraged by the progress Ingram has made.
“I think it’s just part of the growing process,” Walton said. “You always hear people say ‘let the game come to you.’ And that gets easier the older you get, the more you understand the game and the more experience you have in this league.
“It’s always kind of a feel thing, because you want to get yourself going, you want to get involved but at the same time you’re at your best when you let the game come to you. So it’s just kind of finding that balance as a player, and it’s different for everybody. He did a really nice job of that last game.”
As the season goes on, Ingram will continue to learn from his mistakes and become a better player because of it. After all, despite being the longest-tenured player on the roster, Ingram has played the equivalent of just two seasons in the NBA (164 games) and won’t turn 22 years old until the start of next season.
He’s far from a perfect player, and there’s no telling whether or not he ever will be, but at least we knows he recognizes that and wants to get better.