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Lou Williams on Brandon Ingram’s Lakers tenure

Brandon Ingram, Lou Williams, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans

LOS ANGELES – Lou Williams and the Los Angeles Clippers travel to New Orleans to take on Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans on Saturday afternoon. Both the Clippers and Pelicans are coming in on two-game win streaks while also winning seven of their last 10 games.

Ingram is coming off a career-high 49-point performance against the Utah Jazz on 15-of-25 shooting from the field. The fourth-year forward is thriving this season despite the Pelicans struggling to muster wins through the early part of the campaign due to injuries.

Lou Williams and Brandon Ingram were teammates together with the Los Angeles Lakers, and while they only played 58 games together, the two developed a bond. In fact, Lou still calls Ingram by the nickname he had for him during their 2016-17 campaign.

“I’m happy for Tiny Dog,” Lou Williams said with a smile when told Brandon Ingram had 49 points. “That’s my nickname for him [when] we played together, but like I said different guys play differently against different teams. We don’t expect him to have another 50, but I’m happy for him.”

Brandon Ingram has blossomed into an All-Star in his first year in New Orleans, averaging 25.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, a steal, and 2.5 3-pointers per game on 48 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. It’s a stark improvement from his final year with the Lakers, which brought up questions regarding the situation Ingram is currently in compared to his previous one.

Lou Williams may have only played 58 games with Ingram, but he was able to give a candid response about why the pressure Ingram faced in his first few years with the Lakers had an impact on his play.

“How do I tiptoe around it being a Laker thing?” Williams asked, collecting his thoughts.

“When you’re a young player, so many young players, and they have such a rich history of winning, a lot of pressure goes on the shoulder of those young guys. Different organizations have more patience to develop young guys and the Lakers want to win right away. Some of that pressure was deserved because they were high picks and they should be good, quality basketball players, but at the same time, they’re young guys still trying to figure it out.”

The Lakers were a lottery team for four consecutive seasons from 2014 to 2017. While there weren’t immediate championship expectations, there was pressure on young guys like Brandon Ingram to become a star quickly.

“I’m glad that he’s in a position where he can show his genius as well, just like Markelle [Fultz], and those guys keep growing.”

Last season, Lou Williams echoed similar sentiments regarding then-Brooklyn Nets star D’Angelo Russell.

Russell was also traded away from the Lakers after seemingly failing to reach expectations that Magic Johnson and the organizations set for him.

“He’s not a late bloomer at all,” said Williams. “I think people expect you to be a star right away nowadays. The guy is in his fourth year and he’s an All-Star. That’s early to me. There’s a lot of guys that don’t have that opportunity.

“I don’t think he’s a late bloomer. He’s right on time.”

The votes have yet to be announced, but it would be surprising if Brandon Ingram isn’t named an All-Star for the first time in his four-year career thanks to his breakout season. A few weeks ago, it would’ve been a stretch with the Pelicans so far down the Western Conference standings, but a 9-3 stretch over the last 12 games has certainly helped his case.

“Each year, he’s matured,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers added about Brandon Ingram. “It’s another high draft pick that you want him to be great right away and now you start to see what everyone saw on draft night. It’s just taken a little bit.”

The Clippers and Pelicans will tip off at Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. PST on ABC.