LOS ANGELES -- After the Los Angeles Lakers lost Sunday to the Houston Rockets, 20-year-old Brandon Ingram caught himself as he spoke about the Lakers' young players as if he wasn't one.
"All we can do is give advice to the young guys," Ingram said. "Of course I'm a young guy too but give it to the rookies."
That was another part of Ingram's evolution. He's learning to lead, he's gaining confidence and he's figuring out how he can truly be a scoring threat. Last week, for the first time in his career, Ingram scored at least 20 points in consecutive games. After scoring a career-high 32 against the Golden State Warriors, he scored 20 against the Denver Nuggets.
He's at his best when the stage is biggest, and others have noticed.
"If he keeps developing the way he's developing," Lakers veteran Corey Brewer said, "he's definitely going to be an All-Star in the next two or three years."
That kind of expectation came with Ingram into the NBA.
The former Duke forward was the second pick in the draft last year, and many wanted immediate results. The Lakers insisted on patience. Ingram wasn't even their starting small forward until February.
During the offseason, they steadfastly maintained their belief in Ingram, refusing to include him in potential trade packages. The Lakers' front office was new to Ingram, but the coaching staff wasn't. It was on the strength of their faith in him that the organization remained bullish on him.
Now, it's not only inside the building that Ingram is being noticed. Warriors star Kevin Durant said he was impressed with the young Laker's development. During that game, Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum said on Twitter: "Ingram gonna be a probleeem."
The 6-foot-9 Ingram came into the NBA weighing 190 pounds, too skinny to be as effective as the Lakers knew he would be later in his career. He struggled with his shot, taking contact and finishing at the rim. Two of those issues have been negated significantly as he has added strength.