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ShowTime Do Or Die

Showtime has officially returned to Hollywood. We got a glimpse of the new look Lakers last night against the Denver Nuggets, and even in a loss, they looked noticeably better than the 35 win team we saw last season. That tends happens when you have LeBron on your side. What was surprising about last night though, LeBron didn't look like the best player on the court. He didn't even look like the best Laker. That honor belonged to whom LeBron hailed as up next, Brandon Ingram.

Ingram played the most minutes of any Laker last night and finished with 16 points on an efficient 50% shooting night. It was a solid start for Ingram with these new Lakers, as his growth this season will help determine how far this team goes precisely. But what if I told you this season would determine a whole lot more than team success for Ingram?

Ingram has been billed as the future cornerstone of the Lakers rebuild. He was the second pick in the 2016 draft, making him the most experienced of the young Lakers. He was compared to the reigning Finals MVP, Kevin Durant, coming out of college but so far has not lived up to that tremendous hype. As a rookie, KD averaged 20 out the gate, Ingram, on the other hand, wasn't able to crack double digits. In their sophomore seasons, KD bumped his per game to 25, but Ingram was only able to raise his to 16.

Now entering his third season, Ingram has to match the hype, his Lakers' career depends on it.

But why such an ultimatum, WhyToby?

The addition of LeBron has put the Lakers in an interesting spot. The rebuild is over. You don't rebuild with LeBron, you contend. What the Lakers are missing is that second star beside LeBron and this season is Ingram's audition for it. He must be a go-to scorer for this team, and if he isn't, there just won't be a role for him. Ingram must average at least 20 this season. If Ingram struggles to hit that mark and the Lakers struggle because of it, look for Ingram's name to be all over the trade market. He's their most enticing trade piece and most certainly will be asked for by other teams. It will be up to him to prove to the Lakers that he's too valuable to give up.

The patience and the process they had planned for the young core all went out the window the day LeBron signed, and more so for Ingram than anybody. This season isn't do or die for Ingram, he is a gifted player and will have a long career in the NBA. This season will just determine if he spends the next few years alongside LeBron or if he plays them in maybe Toronto, New Orleans or elsewhere.

Does Ingram want to be in LA and a Laker for the long haul? His play this season will determine that.


Do you agree with my thoughts on the Lakers and Ingram? Debate with me on Twitter @_WhyToby or on Instagram @_WhyToby

#BrandonIngram #LosAngelesLakers #LeBronJames #KevinDurant #Lakers #DenverNuggets

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