Los Angeles won a championship as a result while Ingram has established himself as a top-tier scorer with the Pelicans. But, as a member of Team USA for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, Ingram is having a difficult time adjusting to a different, perhaps lesser role while some of his teammates have thrived.
“This is totally different than what I am used to,” Ingram said, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic on August 27. “The team is winning right now, so I can’t be selfish thinking about myself. But it’s a little frustrating right now for me, and I’m just trying to figure out ways I can be effective.”
That opened the floodgates of criticism.
“Tell us you can’t play winning basketball without telling us you can’t play winning basketball,” tweeted @pharmaziz.
“You frustrate us by having us watch you play,” tweeted @hibsidnolic on August 27.
Ingram — the No.2 overall pick of the draft in 2016 — scored just two points in Team USA’s opening matchup, a 99-72 win over New Zealand, going 1-for-4 from the floor with three assists and two rebounds.
Some fans suggested he should focus on defense.
Others, simply said they understood Ingram’s frustration, particularly after the opener saw Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards finish the game with 21 shot attempts while no other player on the team took 10, including two stars from Team USA’s friendly games, Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reaves.
Ingram noted how he’s used to playing with the ball in his hands, and the differences between international play and the NBA style of basketball.
He also said he’s using the experience for intel.
“I know who I am,” Ingram said, per Vardon. “In ways, I can get stuck and think my way is the best way. This is a learning experience. … I get to see everybody work, get to see everybody’s strengths and everybody’s weaknesses, so I can take it back to my team, be smart about it.”
Meanwhile, Reaves’ experience continues to be nothing but positive.
Austin Reaves Greeted With Raucous Ovation
The Lakers’ rising star is extremely popular among the locals despite coming off the bench for a rival, stepping on stage for a public appearance to great fanfare.
“I was one of those kids watching the World Cup [and] the Olympics, so every day I wake up and cherish those moments,” Reaves said, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN. “I’m from a super small town, and not a lot of people expected me to be here representing our country. So for the [crowds] to accept me the way that they accept me, it means a lot to me.”
Reaves’ stardom figures to keep rising next season as he mans the starting shooting guard position for the Lakers, according to head coach Darvin Ham who also said in no uncertain terms that he sees All-Star potential in Reaves.
The former undrafted free agent, Reaves, had 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting with six assists and two rebounds in the opener.
For their next test, Team USA faces Greece on August 28.
Ex-Lakers PG Vow to ‘Play Again’
While Ingram was taking fire on social media, former teammate Lonzo Ball has been taking it from the media, engaging in a back-and-forth with ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith over what Ball claims was “fake news”.
Ball, now with the Chicago Bulls. has been sidelined since January 2022 with a knee injury that has required three surgeries.
His latest procedure will keep him out for the entire 2023-24 campaign as well.
He also had injury issues while in Los Angeles, including surgery on his meniscus in 2018 – the same knee that is giving him trouble now.
Ball was a part of the package the Lakers sent to New Orleans for Davis with Ingram. He was sign-and-traded to the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2021 but only made it 35 games before suffering the injury.