Professional athletes are some of the most confident and competitive people on the planet. They got to where they are through incredible work and an undying belief in themselves. It should therefore come as no surprise to hear Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram voice the belief he still has in himself despite an up-and-down career to this point.
Ingram told Dave McMenamin of ESPN his sights are set pretty high in terms of his ceiling.
“I like to think to the highest, highest. I don’t think it’s unrealistic,” Ingram told ESPN. “I would say my career, career goal would be the best player in this league one day.”
Interestingly enough, Lonzo Ball answered a question about where he sees his career ending up, and his response might give a tiny bit of insight into the two players’ differing mentalities.
Here’s the thing: As great as it is that Ingram believes in himself and how far that has gotten him to this point, there comes a time where he needs to be a little more realistic. Maybe his age-21 season is a little early for that (hell, I still had dreams at 21), but at some point, Ingram needs to realize that he can have a very successful career and fall short of being the best player in the NBA.
This isn’t even necessarily a knock on Ingram, either. That Ingram might never be the best player in the NBA in any given year says as much about the state of the NBA than anything else. The guys who play in this league are insanely good and it seems we’re in one of the most bountiful talent booms the league has ever seen. Not reaching the pinnacle of the professional ranks right now is no failure whatsoever.
Where I do worry a little about this response, however, is what it says about how Ingram approaches his development. We’ve already seen him struggle to be productive when he’s off the ball this season at times.
What the Lakers need from Ingram is a willingness to accept a supplementary role and be the best he can be at that role. He has seemed to do a slightly better job of that of late (albeit in brief flashes), but the real test for him will come when LeBron James comes back. If the changes he’s shown some signs of are for real, it means it will be that much sooner that he can embark on a career trajectory that best fits his profile, and everyone around him will benefit as a result.