Brandon Ingram sat his willowy body on a basketball stanchion just before he was engulfed by the media following his private workout with the Lakers on Thursday.
The Duke star and likely Lakers draft pick was peppered with questions about how he could develop enough strength on his 6-foot-9 frame to have an immediate impact in the NBA.
In an easy low tone, Ingram mentioned how he arrived at Duke for his freshman season in 2015 weighing “about 169 pounds,” he said, and left after one season weighing “about 195.”
Though he’ll be a small forward in the NBA, Ingram knows his lack of bulk could be an issue if he doesn’t add more muscle
“The biggest challenge is being physical, I guess, developing weight and getting stronger,” Ingram said. “With my build, I’m just trying to get stronger, knowing that it’s coming naturally. But it’s trying to build everything I can before I get to the next level.”
Ingram had dinner with Lakers executives Wednesday night and was scheduled to eat with them again Thursday night. That’s part of the effort to learn all they can about an 18-year-old they might take with their second overall pick in the NBA draft, if Philadelphia doesn’t take him with the top pick on June 23.
When he was asked what he has done to build up his strength in the past few months, Ingram joked about how food had become his best friend.
“Just eat everything that I can,” Ingram said, laughing. “Of course I think at my weight, I can eat anything. I don’t have to have a certain diet for myself. Just eat anything that I can and stay in the weight room as much as possible.”
If there is a weakness in Ingram’s game, one Eastern Conference scout said, it is his slight build.
But the executive, who was not allowed to speak publicly, did have concerns about Ingram’s physique.
“Ingram will be a small forward in our league and the guys who play that position are exceptional athletes. They are strong, quick and physical,” the scout said. “So when I look at his body type, I’m not sure if he can gain enough weight that he’ll need to play at this level. That would be a concern for me.”
The goal, Ingram said, is to gain about “10 to 15 pounds” every summer because he knows how much more physical the NBA is compared to the college game.
“But at the end of the day, it’s basketball. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life, trying to score the ball and trying to defend,” Ingram said. “So I know everybody in the NBA, they develop their body in the summer. I’ll try to do the same thing.”
During his workout against the Lakers’ assistant coaches, Ingram demonstrated that he could roll off physical defenders despite his build.
Ingram said that he’ll also work out for the 76ers before the draft.
Louisiana State forward Ben Simmons and Ingram are widely expected to be the top two picks.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Ingram said about where he is picked. “Of course I want to go to the organization that wants me and I want to develop in this league the best way I can.”
Because of his build and because he shot 41.3% from three-point range at Duke, Ingram has been compared to a young Kevin Durant.
When Durant came out of Texas in the 2007 draft, there were reports that the 6-9 small forward couldn’t bench press 185 pounds during his workouts.
But he could always score and knock down shots from distance. Durant has won four NBA scoring titles and a most-valuable-player award and is one of the best players of his generation.
“Of course he’s way ahead of me right now,” Ingram said. “But of course that’s where I want to be. I want to be somewhere I can make my own name.”