After a well-documented offseason of nonstop work in the gym, Brandon Ingram couldn’t help but be disappointed by his own play through the first five games of Summer League.
“Offensively it’s not going so well at all,” he said five days ago.
But Ingram — who had averaged just 9.3 points, 1.3 assists and 31.7 percent shooting heading into Friday’s preseason finale — finally broke through.
He led the Lakers past the LA Clippers with a mix of scoring and playmaking, putting up 15 points and five assists.
But head coach Luke Walton wouldn’t put much stock in an exhibition, instead placing his focus on making sure Ingram is able to “enjoy the process” of growing as a player, rather than expecting everything to all come at once.
“For all players the stress and pressure is going to add up and sometimes get in the way,” Walton said at Saturday’s practice. “For Brandon I think there’s a lot of expectation on him, and a lot of people forget he’s 20 years old going into his second year in the NBA.
“When you look back in history, not many people all of a sudden bloom into all-stars in their second year. I try to remind him that it’s a long career he’s going to have. Just keep working the way he does and focus on the fundamentals and the details of the game.”
Walton allowed that Saturday’s success could be a nice confidence bump for Ingram.
It also fostered some cohesion with starting center Brook Lopez, who was on the receiving end of four of Ingram’s assists.
“He’s obviously such a talented player,” Lopez said. “He’s dangerous in a lot of different ways. When you have him coming in the pick-and-roll, he comes off so hard. He’s so versatile that defenders have to make a decision.”
Battle at the Four
Julius Randle sat out of Saturday’s practice due to a right intercostal strain suffered the night before.
He and Larry Nance Jr. are competing for the final spot in the starting lineup, as Randle started the first three preseason games at power forward, though Nance stepped in for the final three.
While Walton will likely take all the time he can to decide before Thursday’s season opener, Lopez enjoyed the way that he and Nance meshed over the last few games.
“I think we definitely contrast each other very well,” Lopez said. “A lot of the differences that make us good individual players make us an even better tandem.”