Brandon Ingram is about to enter the largest spotlight of his career as a headliner for the NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge showcase Friday in New Orleans.

There's no Ben Simmons to lead the current draft class. No one from the entire top five, actually, besides Ingram.

Ingram has played almost 500 more minutes than any other 2016 first-round pick. He's already an everyday starter for the Los Angeles Lakers.

It makes sense for Ingram to be a prominent figure at All-Star Weekend when you trace his ascent. He is exactly the guy you would expect to be playing basketball when others are taking a break or still getting ready.

And that, when you boil it down, is precisely what has separated him from others to this point.

There was always a workout after the workout. The end of team practice just meant more floor to burn all alone or with someone rebounding for him.

He sacrificed his adolescence to drive seven hours every other weekend, sometimes not returning home, to play for the right AAU team.

Ingram's greatest memories are of being able to level up—whether hanging in pickup games with his older brother or grown men, around whom he never dared to call a foul, or when he delivered as a high school freshman to win the state title so soon after a mere visit from the high school coach to scout his final middle-school game had left Ingram giddy.