After a three-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers where he produced solid but unspectacular numbers as part of a losing team’s young core, Brandon Ingram is enjoying a breakout season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Given the tumultuous lead-up to the blockbuster trade that eventually sent him to the Pelicans in the summer, the 22-year-old forward admitted in a recent interview that his final season with the Lakers was, for the most part, not a happy one.
On Wednesday, Bleacher Report published a feature story on Ingram. Mirin Fader spoke to the former No. 2 overall draft pick about a variety of topics, including the troubled 2018-19 campaign where he dealt with a plethora of trade rumors and got sidelined for the rest of the season after he underwent surgery for a blood clot in March. In addition to those challenges, Ingram and his fellow Lakers also lost a lot of games despite the team’s acquisition of LeBron James in the summer of 2018.
Talking about how hard it was to deal with the mounting losses, as well as the injuries to key players in the second half of the 2018-19 season, Ingram told Fader that these issues took their toll on him.
“I lost joy sometimes. I only lost my joy because I felt like I could do more on the basketball court. I felt like I could help a little bit more. I felt like I could have been a little more involved in the offense. I could have been used a little bit better.”
Ingram’s mother, Joann, who was also interviewed for the Bleacher Report feature, backed up her son’s account, admitting that he “wasn’t happy” in Los Angeles anymore at that point in the season. Likewise, the publication noted that the forward’s father, Donald Ingram, told him to focus on his game amid the numerous trade rumors suggesting that he and several other players could be moved to the Pelicans for All-Star big man Anthony Davis.
Brandon Ingram in his 3 games since returning to the court:— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) November 24, 2019
33 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST, 45.3 FPTS
28 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 50.1 FPTS
21 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST, 42.9 FPTS pic.twitter.com/L4re9saenx
Despite everything he went through, Brandon Ingram stressed that, in general, he still “loved” playing for the Lakers during his time with the team and is thankful for the opportunities he was given in Los Angeles.
While he is still playing for a losing team whose prized rookie, Zion Williamson, has yet to play due to injuries, Ingram is currently averaging a career-best 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and four assists for New Orleans. Those numbers will likely decline slightly once Williamson is cleared to play, but as Bleacher Report pointed out in a separate article, the former Lakers youngster looks to be “part of the next step” for a rebuilding Pelicans team, not to mention someone who team executives reportedly want to retain for the long term.