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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram works on ball-handling, shooting with trainer Micah Lancaster

The Los Angeles Lakers officially returned to relevance with the acquisition of LeBron James this offseason, but there is no guarantee yet that this team has what it takes to challenge the top teams in the Western Conference.

After LeBron, the team is based around a core of young players who will need to take significant steps in improving their game if the Lakers hope to contend with the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.

One of these players is third-year forward Brandon Ingram. Drafted second overall in 2016, the lanky forward affectionately nicknamed “Slenderman” by his teammates for his thin physique was expected to be an important contributor to the team immediately.

Ingram didn’t tear the league up as a rookie but put up respectable averages of 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds on 40 percent shooting.

His scoring numbers saw a large boost in the 2017-18 season, up to 16.1 points on 47 percent shooting from the field and a solid 39 percent from behind the arc. This improvement is good to see for Lakers fans, but still, more is expected out of a No. 2 overall pick with so much potential.

Ingram doesn’t seem to be satisfied with these numbers either. He has been taped working on two weak spots in his game, ball-handling and shooting, with trainer Micah Lancaster. Lancaster worked last summer with Victor Oladipo, so he is a good guy to be training with.

Ingram has great length, but his slim stature has made it difficult for him to push off larger defenders to get space for his jumper. His limited handle adds to this problem, and he can look awkward at times shifting his thin frame into full acceleration to blow by defenders.

If he can improve these two skills, the Lakers will have a terrific forward to place alongside LeBron, or perhaps even a small-ball center at times. Lakers fans are hoping this practice can finally give them the player they envisioned when Ingram was chosen out of Duke.

A City Without A Team That’s About To Take Over The NBA