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Lakers’ LeBron James says this is Brandon Ingram’s year, loves seeing his growth

LeBron James, Brandon Ingram, Lakers

LeBron James didn’t back down on his support for teammate Brandon Ingram after a rousing 31-point performance to earn the Los Angeles Lakers’ first preseason win on Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings. James had been encouraged by Ingram’s talent, giving him props even after a four-point, five-foul 19-minute stint in a narrow loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier this week.

“This is the year for him, I believe in him,” said James after a 128-123 win over the Kings. “I know what his abilities are, even just being around him for these first few weeks. Every big shot we needed, every big play we needed he made down the stretch, and I love seeing his growth.”

Ingram has shown the potential throughout his first two seasons in the league, but it has come in relative spurts, lacking the consistency he will need if he hopes to take the ascent to stardom. The 6-foot-9 wing recently started at point guard as coach Luke Walton sat out starter Rajon Rondo and rookie Lonzo Ball — a change that sparked his best game, given his newfound ability to make plays.

The Duke product put up his game-leading 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor and 11-of-15 from the foul line, filling up the box score with nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in 35 minutes.

Ingram will have the occasional breakout night every now and then, but it is developing consistency that will ultimately determine if he’s ready to be the Robin to LeBron’s Batman.