Brandon Ingram was selected second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2016 NBA draft. People were quick to compare him to Kevin Durant because of his lean, very lean physique. But it quickly became apparent that Ingram was no Durant. Ingram was not the shooter and offensive force that Durant is.

After 79 games and plenty of opportunities from head coach Luke Walton, Brandon averaged 9.4 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in his rookie season. But Ingram was also able to show glimpses of who he could become. He has certainly taken steps forward this season.

Is Ingram a star in the making?

After the All-Star break, Ingram began to show a more aggressive side. He finally gave Lakers fans hope. People in the Lakers organization raved about how hard Ingram had worked and improved during the off-season, but the sophomore did not make strides early on this season.

Many Lakers fans began to lose hope and wonder whether Ingram was not special after all. But Ingram quickly turned things around. The 20-year-old has become a force to reckon with. He is the Lakers' primary scorer and closer. Despite the fact that he still needs to put on many, many pounds to be ready to excel in the NBA, Ingram's mindset does seem to be NBA-ready.

Ingram has the tools

According to his coaches and teammates, Ingram's work ethic is exemplary.

Then there is his skills development. This season, Ingram is proving that he can finish with authority around the rim. He is learning to absorb the contact and make the basket. His 7ft 3in wingspan certainly helps him finish these plays, but his fearlessness helps him even more. His jump shot is also gradually becoming reliable.

When he is making those shots in the mid-range, his game goes to another level. Ingram still needs to work on the three-point shot, but that game-winner against the Philadelphia 76ers will surely instill in him more confidence and desire to expand his game. Consistency is also vital.

Ingram is also a playmaker. Forwards are not supposed to be playmakers.

Great forwards like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or novice Ben Simmons have amazed the world thanks to their surprising agility and playmaking ability at the small/power forward positions. Ingram too handles the ball like a guard and shows flashes of great court vision. After all, he played point guard for several years when he was a kid.

When Lonzo Ball is not on the floor, Walton relies on Ingram to handle the ball and make the right plays. Ingram is emerging as a leader and Walton is only nourishing that sentiment within him. Ingram is lucky to have this kind of coach at this stage of his career. While they cannot truly improve players or only do so to a certain degree, they certainly can make them worse, and that can have a lasting impact on young players.

Ingram silently taking steps forward

Ingram is averaging over 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game so far this season. Magic Johnson said that he would be disappointed if Ingram did not average 20 points this season. That tells you that Magic has high expectations for Ingram. It seems like he accepted Magic's challenge, and Magic will take his effort for the moment.

We cannot forget that Ingram is only 20 years of age and that his game and body need a lot of maturities. Lonzo Ball might have been overly hyped, but the expectations were also set too high too soon for Ingram last year. Kobe Bryant had retired, and you can imagine the void that he left behind within the Lakers and the pain left within Lakers Nation.

Many fans were asking for last year's number 2 draft pick to become their next savior immediately. That was illogical and unfair to Ingram, and the Lakers certainly did not have a quality team that could help Ingram quickly improve, nor do they have one now.

The spotlight has been placed on Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, but Ingram has been silently working in the darkness with the goal of being great one day. Lakers fans still need to remain patient. The addition of veteran stars will help the team make that desired step forward. But the future looks bright right now for the Lakers, and it might not be Lonzo Ball nor Kyle Kuzma who ends up being the franchise player one day.