Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram intends to play a “handful” of NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas according to general manager Rob Pelinka, and the second year forward has plans to govern the Thomas & Mack Center with an iron basketball fist.
This summer league will be a lot easier,” Ingram said. “I want to show a big jump in how my game progressed over the year. It’s another big jump this offseason. I’ll try to go in and show a little bit of what’s going to happen next season.”
Ingram has been a mainstay in the Lakers’ practice facility so far this offseason, and this eagerness to impress in Summer League coupled with his hard work should culminate into one of the strongest individual performances we see in Vegas, even though it sounds like Ingram won’t be around for the duration.
Here are some things I’ll be looking for from the Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft during his stint with the Lakers’ Summer League squad.
Improved shooting touch:
It’s no secret that Ingram’s shooting percentages in his rookie season were gross. He connected on 40% of his shots from the field, 29% from three, 62% from the free-throw line and actually finished the season with more rebounds (317) than made field goals (276)
Understanding that a huge chunk of his summer would have to be devoted to tweaking his shot, Ingram got to work right away, working diligently with Lakers assistant Brian Keefe on becoming a bigger threat from the perimeter.
In a Q&A with Lakers Nation in late-May, Ingram shed light on what he had been working on so far this offseason, and it happened to be the mechanics of his jumper.
Q: You said you’ve been working on mechanics, does that mean footwork, your shot, tell me a little bit about that specifically…
Ingram: Footwork, of course, but really details on my shot. I think this year, my percentage isn’t where I wanted it to be. I think a big factor was because of how long I am and because of my shot, so I think the big things are mechanics on my form, and I think the percentage will be better.
The Lakers’ Twitter account sent out a video of Ingram putting in work earlier this month, and his shot is looking a lot better mechanically. Los Angeles seems to be focused on adjusting Ingram’s release point, as he had a tendency to favor his right side when he shot the rock. Ingram’s release point now seems to be more centered, which will avoid him from getting his view of the basket obstructed when he locks-and-loads.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 6, 2017
It’ll be interesting to see if this translates to more success from the outside from Ingram, but I won’t be monitoring the metrics much. I want to see if Ingram is tempted to revert back to his old shooting ways, or if he continues to abide by the groundwork that’s been laid so far this summer. Re-inventing your shot can be tough, and some push themselves back to that familiar shooting space once it’s time to put those new principles into practice during a game. Let’s hope this isn’t the case for Ingram.
Leadership/Level of aggression:
In a game that took place during the last week of the season, Ingram punched a nasty and-one poster on New Orleans Pelicans big man Cheick Diallo, and immediately let out a prolonged, vicious roar to the crowd.
This was arguably the most emotion Ingram had displayed in one single moment all season long, and it seemed as if he was letting out all of the stresses that amassed during the course of his wayward rookie campaign. He was beginning to bask in a new-found confidence, one that seemed to emanate from the arrival of Magic Johnson in the front office, who has deemed Ingram as one of the Lakers’ “untouchable” assets.
Knowing that he has the full backing of Los Angeles’ brain trust, Ingram should aim to sustain the level of confidence and aggression he flashed down the stretch of last season. His feel for the game improved, and he began to find the crevices in the defense that he could slide his slender frame through to get to the rim.
I don’t think Ingram will ever be much a vocal leader due to his reserved demeanor, but he can still do so by example. The perfect time to start doing this is the Summer League. Begin establishing these habits now so they spill over into the upcoming season, and become a part of your basketball DNA.
When you’re pinned as the shepherd of the franchise, it’s your duty to set the tone. You must do all the things that align with all of the tired basketball clichés. Showing up early, staying late, holding teammates accountable, barking when you need to but refusing to interject in every situation because it isn’t necessary and sometimes conflict can be nurturing for a team.
Whatever way Ingram decides to go about it is ultimately up to his discretion, but it’s something he needs to learn how to embrace and be able to handle as the Lakers hope the future that rests on his slim shoulder is a bright one.