Over the last two weeks, Brandon Ingram has taken his game to another level. The Los Angeles Lakers’ sophomore forward has scored in double figures in his last 11 games, averaging 19.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1 block and .6 steals – while shooting 47 percent from the field – during that span.
That includes his career-high 32 points (along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks) against the Golden State Warriors and a game-winning three to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers. Ingram just turned 20 years old in September, making his recent numbers even more impressive.
While Lonzo Ball and his family have dominated headlines, it’s clear that Ingram has star potential and is a franchise cornerstone for the Lakers. This season, L.A. is 10-15 (two games out of the Western Conference’s eighth seed). They have the league’s eighth-ranked defense, allowing 102.7 points per 100 possessions, but they are ranked 28th offensively, scoring just 100 points per 100 possessions.
HoopsHype recently caught up with Ingram to discuss his development, his recent production, his relationship with Luke Walton, his chemistry with Ball, his offseason strength training and much more.
Now that you have a year of NBA experience under your belt and have played so well lately, it seems like you’re more confident.
Brandon Ingram: I feel really good. I think I could still be better, but right now I feel very comfortable every time I step on the basketball court. I’m just trying to keep doing the things that have been working for me. I feel very comfortable and confident this season.
How much does it help having Coach Walton for a second year in a row? And now that you’ve had experience with him and his system, how is your chemistry?
BI: Chemistry-wise, we’re really good. Everybody gets along. Me and Coach Walton have a really good relationship. I can always go to him, even to talk about things that I don’t like. We’ve developed a relationship where we can always talk about the different things that we’re seeing on the floor. We discuss how we can get better [as a team] and how I can get better individually.
Kevin Durant recently complimented you, saying that you are a “killer” and that you’re the first player he’s seen where he feels like he’s “looking in the mirror.” How does it feel having stars like Durant and others speak so highly of you?
BI: It makes me want to continue to try to get better, continue to try to be the best player on the floor every single night and continue to work hard on the floor.
What are some areas of your game that you’re focused on improving?
BI: Right now, I’m mainly focused on doing the things I do well. Of course, there are some days where I’ll just go in and work on my jumper. I think my jumper has some catching up to do, but I feel comfortable with it. Sometimes, I’ll feel good in practice and it doesn’t translate to the game, so I just need to feel more comfortable going into games and be able to shoot it.
Over the offseason, one thing you focused on was strength training. You were working hard and sharing some your workouts through a web series with BiPro. Can we walk me through a typical offseason workout for you?
BI: Well, it was an everyday thing. I was in the weight room a lot, when I wasn’t doing conditioning. It was twice a day, doing something in the weight room. When I was lifting, we would focus on two different body parts, so one day would be legs and arms and another day might be back and core work. It was important for me to do that.
I heard you made some dietary changes as well. What changes did you make?
BI: For me, I was just filling up on food – different proteins – and protein drinks. I used the BiPro drinks every day when I was cooling down. It was something that was easy to do.
This year, you guys obviously added Lonzo Ball with your No. 2 pick in the draft. How is your chemistry with Lonzo and what do you think of how he’s played so far?
BI: Our chemistry has been really good and I think it’s going to keep getting better as we figure out each other’s game. Sometimes, we have plays where I just tell him where I want to be on the floor and he’ll get me the ball just like that. Our chemistry off the floor is really good too. He’s going to be a really good player.
Who are some players that you study and try to learn from? I know this gets asked a lot during the draft process, but I’m always curious who current players are studying.
BI: There are a lot of guys around the league, whether they’re smaller players or bigger players. Whether it’s watching Giannis [Antetokounmpo] going to the rim, whether it’s watching KD with his pull-up jumper, whether it’s watching Shaun Livingston with his post work and ability to shoot over guys… I try to watch anyone else who has the size and length to shoot over other guys, like I have. You can take bits and pieces away from watching those guys.
What’s it like being a Laker? I love talking to players on the Lakers because it’s such a unique experience. The fan base is huge, and they have fallen in love with you.
BI: The experience has been crazy. Like you said, the fans are some of the best fans in the world, especially when you’re doing really good there. They believe in you 100 percent. Being a Laker has been really crazy.
What are your individual goals and team goals for the remainder of the season?
BI: My goal is just to get better every single night. I think if you set goals to be the best in the present time, then the future will handle itself. I think, as a team, it’s the same way. We just need to get better every single night – knowing that this is a process, but trying to be impatient with it. Go in every single day, be the best that you can be and live with the results.