Brandon Ingram doesn't want to be Lakers' forgotten man

Ingram received great advice from Magic (0:53)

Brandon Ingram expresses how impressed he is with competiveness of the Lakers' rookies, including Lonzo Ball, and he reveals how Magic Johnson told him he was going to have a breakout year. (0:53)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Brandon Ingram knows many have forgotten about him after his inconsistent rookie season, and he's ready to remind them about what last year's No. 2 overall pick can do.

"I know I am going to be a great player in this league," Ingram told ESPN before he opens his second NBA season Thursday night against the LA Clippers.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward, who averaged a disappointing 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting just 40.2 percent, spent the offseason reworking his 3-point shot while also trying to install elements from "long and wiry" second-team All-NBA players like Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo to his own repertoire.

Lakers president Magic Johnson has another forward in mind when he talks about Ingram. On the eve of training camp, Johnson says he's expecting a breakout season from Ingram, whom he envisions having the type of chemistry with Lonzo Ball that Johnson had with James Worthy on fast breaks during the Showtime era. Johnson also says he wants Ingram to lead the team in scoring.

However, Ingram struggled to figure things out in the preseason, shooting just 36.5 percent and averaging 10.4 points in five exhibition games.

After impressing the Lakers with the endless hours he spent in the gym working on his game this summer, Ingram admitted that his preseason struggles were mental, that he was pressing too hard to show the gains he made during the offseason. It seemed similar to the start of his rookie season when he scored in double figures only eight times in his first 38 games.

"Offensively, it is not going so well," Ingram said earlier this preseason. "At all."

Ingram wasn't just stuck in neutral with his offensive game this preseason. The soft-spoken and friendly swingman admits he was downright miserable because he wasn't seeing the results of his grueling offseason program. It became so noticeable that Johnson and head coach Luke Walton had to tell Ingram to not worry about everything and just have fun on the court again.

"I would go home sometimes and I got family at home trying to make me laugh, make me smile and they know there is something wrong with me," Ingram said. "I am not usually like that, not smiling a lot, not talking a lot. They are just trying to do everything in my power to make me smile. They joke or try to take my mind off with encouraging words."

The same family that has given Ingram all the support he could ask for is also the reason why he is so unforgiving of himself after a missed shot or any miscue made in a meaningless preseason game. The reason why the 20-year-old is so hard on himself is because he wants to live up to the standard set by his parents -- Donald and Joann.

Ingram says his father worked backbreaking hours at a forklift plant and that his mother still works at a pharmacy filling prescriptions for patients in North Carolina.

"I can see in myself how hard my mom and my dad worked," Ingram said. "My mom still works and my dad worked for about 18 hours a day and then [got] about three hours of sleep each day. He doesn't work anymore but just seeing how hard they worked and just try to go as hard to the best of my ability and not take advantage of anything [by taking anything for granted].

"When I have bad games and struggle a little bit, I know it is not the end of the world. But I feel like I am taking advantage of the game a little bit."

If Joann won't stop working even with the contract her son now has, Ingram won't leave the gym.

"She just loves to work," he says. "I can't get her to stop working. She's 53 and you can't tell her anything. I wish I could tell her to stop working. She's even back in school now."

That's the kind of work ethic that saw Ingram back in the gym just three weeks after the season ended, working with Lakers' assistant coach Brian Keefe to alter his 3-point shot. Though Ingram had finished his rookie season strong averaging nearly 15 points during a 12-game stretch in March and early April, and scoring in double figures in 18 of his final 21 games, the Lakers wanted to improve on their prospect's 29.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

The Lakers felt Ingram was pushing his shot with a shot-put like motion. Ingram had to get stronger and make his shot more fluid. Ingram felt he made strides in the offseason getting comfortable with the new shot. But coming into camp banged up a bit impacted his shooting routines and his output in preseason games, according to Walton.

Ingram finished the preseason strong with 15 points in the preseason finale, similar to how he finished the 2016-17 regular season.

"I know I am going to be a great player in this league."
Lakers F Brandon Ingram

New Laker Brook Lopez has seen enough in the little time he has had with Ingram to know what the possibilities are alongside the 6-foot-9 forward this season.

"He's obviously such a talented player, he's dangerous in a lot of different ways," Lopez said. "When you have him coming in the pick-and-roll, he comes off so hard, he's so versatile, defenders have to make a decision."

Now Ingram starts the season with heavy expectations placed on Ingram's broad shoulders. But the 20-year-old is embracing all the challenges.

"Twenty points is five points a quarter," Ingram said. "When you believe in yourself as much as I do, I think it is very possible [to meet Johnson's expectations]. For me this preseason, I got a chance to reflect and try to figure out how I can do that."

The first step for Ingram is reminding the critics who might have forgotten about him why the Lakers took him after Ben Simmons in the 2016 draft.

"For sure," Ingram says when asked if he thinks some have forgotten what he can do. "I don't like to look at things [said] outside of the team, but you can say that.

"And I gave them reasons to [forget]."