The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to turn things around by giving the reigns to Darvin Ham as the new head coach. The Lakers faced a huge disappointment last season as they finished 11th in the Western Conference with an embarrassing record of 33-49. While injuries to Anthony Davis and LeBron James were a big problem, Russell Westbrook played a major role in the team failing to make it to the playoffs. The trade rumors about Westbrook began to spread even before the end of the season as he clearly failed to find the chemistry with LeBron James on the field. However, the new head coach Darvin Ham thinks that Russell would not be going anywhere and would play a crucial role for the team next season.
There is no doubt that the nine-time All-Star is one of the most dynamic players in the league, and his talent cannot be questioned. However, the 33-year-old failed to find the chemistry on the Lakers roster. He scored an average of 18.5 points per game with 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists. But his lack of efficiency and poor shooting has been the major reason behind his unsuccessful season. Although LeBron has performed the best around players who can take advantage of his playmaking abilities.
However, Westbrook is a ball-dominant player like James and has failed to team up with LeBron. He is the league\’s worst shooting guard, with a 3-point efficiency of 29.8%. In addition, Russell is ranked tenth among the Lakers players who played at least 20 games and attempted a minimum of one three-pointer per game. Sadly, the Lakers point guard conceded 3.8 turnovers per game which is the worst on the team.
Darvin Ham Backs Russell Westbrook And Talks About Him Being in A New Role
On Monday, the Lakers\’ new head coach conversed with the reporters during the introductory press conference. Ham was asked about how Westbrook will fit in the team during the upcoming season. The former Milwaukee assistant stated that Russell would absolutely stay with the team for the next season. Moreover, Darvin told that Russell is one of the best players in the league history. So, he did not understand why people tried to write Westbrook off. Ham further stated that he would approach Russell as he does to every player he has ever come across. He added, \”We\’re gonna talk about our running habits with the ball, without the ball.\”
The 48-year-old also discussed the plan of working on the defense and how Westbrook will fit in that responsibility. Ham suggested that the team needed to commit to the defensive side of the ball. Otherwise, they would not have a chance to do anything. Moreover, the new coach expects Westbrook to take defensive responsibilities in the next season. Ham wants Russell to return back to being a pit bull in defense like he was before his 30s.
Darvin believes that everything will flow from the defensive end. He also plans on introducing some running habits which would benefit Westbrook. Ham wants to help him find the different areas on the court he can attack from. Darvin has made it clear that he wants Russell to set the defensive tone for the team. He wants Westbrook to get back to guarding at the championship level.
The Lakers had one of the worst defenses in the 2021-22 season when Anthony Davis and LeBron James were sidelined due to injuries. The team was rated 21st in the defensive rating out of thirty teams. The stat is completely opposite to the 2020 championship win when the Lakers were ranked third defensively. Hopefully, Darvin\’s gamble on Westbrook works, as the latter is set to take his $47 million player option this summer.