Darvin Ham is officially the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. A promising coach, with a big job on his hands.
He started his NBA coaching journey with the Lakers in 2011, as an assistant coach. He is now the 28th head coach in franchise history.
There already is an immense amount of pressure being the coach of a franchise as legendary as the Lakers. Then there’s also a certain amount of pressure being the coach of a team that includes LeBron James.
Now, you put those two factors together and Ham has a lot of expectations in his first job as head coach in the NBA.
It’s fair to say one player who has been scapegoated for the Lakers’ terrible season is Russell Westbrook.
Albeit, Westbrook did have a bad season for his standards. There are just so many problems with the Lakers it is unfair to pin it all on one man.
The Westbrook trade has not worked out so there have been calls that the Lakers have to accept their failure and move him.
Well, Ham has made it clear that the 2016-17 Regular Season MVP is here to stay.
Ham said: “Russell is one of the best players our league has ever seen and there’s still a ton left in that tank.
“I’m going to approach him how I do every player I’ve ever encountered, we are going to talk about our running habits with the ball, without the ball.”
He also stressed the importance of accountability. One of the most frustrating things to watch about Westbrook during the season was his off-ball defense.
He would play questionable help defense and lose his assignment often.
Something that looked like it could be explained by a lack of concentration on defense. The Lakers’ new head coach indicated that there will be an improvement in this area.
He spoke on his idea of: “Facts over Feelings”.
The first-year head coach said: “Once you see the film, and it’s a fact that you missed your assignment then that has to be pointed out.
“If I can’t point that out to one of our big three then the last man, or someone in the rotation, not going to take what we are doing seriously so it has to be consistent across the board.”
The former Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach sounds like he is prepared to hold Westbrook accountable. He’s also mentioned that he’s had positive conversations with Westbrook, so it also seems that Westbrook has no problem with his.
“Russ and I have had some really really great one-on-one convos man and the biggest word I think that came out of those discussions was sacrifice.”
Now, this sounds good but we have been hearing about the importance of sacrifice from the beginning of this past season.
You could see Westbrook was sacrificing, but it didn’t lead to anything. Can Ham find the right balance and roles in these big three?
One of the most interesting things Ham said about how he plans to use Westbrook was when they spoke on expectations.
He said: “I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been his entire career.
“A lot of it now may happen without the ball in hands, most of it now may be on the defensive end. But again we have to sacrifice.”
Westbrook with the ball in his hands seems to be in his plans, and Westbrook seems to be willing to do whatever Ham implements.
There was a lot of talk about letting “Russ be Russ,” but without the ball in his hands doesn’t seem like Westbrook. However, as mentioned Westbrook seems open to the idea and willing to sacrifice.
Ham also shed light on how the Lakers will set up offensively with the big three on the court.
He said: “I think the type of spacing, four out one in style, which I’m going to implement is going to help all parties.”
It is certainly a positive that Ham has an idea of how he thinks they can get the best out of Westbrook. Although, whether it will work is a different story that we will just have to wait and see the outcome.