Brandon Ingram, the second-year forward with sleepy, pencil-thin eyes, will probably never be able to howl at his teammates like Thunder guard Westbrook. You can never transmit a message with a threatening look like Kobe Bryant. You can not win a room with a large volume of words.
No, for Ingram to be the leader the Lakers hope he can be, they expect their actions to speak loud enough.
Lakers Coach Luke Walton said he has seen the No. 2 overall make improvements as a leader in his season and a half as a professional, steps that have become even more pronounced in recent weeks.
"It's definitely happening," Walton said. . "You can see him when you're close to him every day, you see how the guys react to him, by the way, he can see that he has the respect of all his teammates, that comes from being a leader, they look at him and trust him when he plays well, when we need a cube, they call his number to get the ball. "
An evolving game on the court is an important part of Ingram's maturation as a leader. If you're going to be a player who leads mainly by example, you'd better get results.
And before injuring his ankle in Dallas, Ingram was playing the best basketball of his professional career.
scored at least 20 points in three of the four pre-victory games in Dallas to start this most recent three-game trip, and against the Mavericks, it looked like Ingram could target his first professional triple-double before twisting his ankle.
Back on the court Wednesday night after missing the Lakers' loss in Memphis, you could see something Walton was talking about.
While he only scored eight points in the 114-90 loss to the Thunder, the ball almost always finds its way to Ingram when offensive possessions sputter , a sign that his teammates trust him as the best available option. 19659002] Walton admitted that he will probably never become the most vocal player on the court; it just is not in the personality of Ingram.
"But he leads by the way he works, he leads by example, he has a competitive fire in him that will make the boys follow him as well," Walton said. "I've seen it sound sometimes, and I think when he speaks, the kids really listen because it does not happen often, but he keeps growing in that area."
The Lakers could succeed without one of their best players being the most vocal: San Antonio did it with Kawhi Leonard. But, that is not the ideal. Eventually you'll want to match Ingram and the rest of the young Lakers with a player with a big mouth to match a great game.
"You would like to have both, but at this moment we do not, we will continue to improve with what we have and the boys improve," said Walton. "It's nothing to complain about, but at the moment we do not have the kind of noisy and talked about the team, but it's okay, we're getting better."
The Lakers go home
As the team began this road trip with a healthy list, they would return to the Staples Center on Friday with a handful of injuries.
Lonzo Ball did not participate in the shooting on Wednesday and is a remote possibility of playing in the team's next game against Indiana with a left knee injury.
The titular guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also a question mark after the effort of his Achilles tendon at the end of the second quarter of Wednesday.
"I was relieved when the x-rays were negative, it was good," he said. "Fortunately, it's a short term, but let's see what I can do tomorrow."
Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma also suffered an injury to the Thunder, hyperexpressing a joint in his left little finger.
Kuzma said that "probably" will be available against the Pacers.
Ingram also revealed his sprained ankle. However, Walton said Ingram could have returned on Wednesday if the score had been closer.