Darvin Ham Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook Darvin Ham Source: Bleacher Report

NBA star Russell Westbrook had a superstar status during his days with Oklahoma City Thunder as he has been a nine-time All-Star. But in 2019, the Thunder traded him to the Houston Rockets after keeping him for eleven years. Later, he also had a year stint with both Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards. But then, in 2021, Rob Pelinka signed Westbrook to welcome him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell Westbrook then stayed with the Lakers for two years. But due to some performance issues, he was once again traded off.

However, in a recent interview with Marc Stein and Chris Haynes on the Uncut podcast #this league, the Lakers coach Darvin Ham defended Russell Westbrook. The coach even praised his two-year stint with the purple and gold.


Darvin Ham Defended While Praising Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Darvin Ham
Russell Westbrook Darvin Ham Source: Bleacher Report

According to Darvin Ham, Russell Westbrook saved the team from losses a bunch of times. He believes that it is not fair the amount of blame that he had to endure for the team’s failure. Apparently, Russell’s presence indeed made a difference. When the team needed a streak, Russell Westbrook would help the team get there. The Lakers would go 12-2 or 10-0 with his help. Hence, Ham believes when Russell Westbrook would come off the bench, he proved multiple times that he could be lethal. Even though the point guard had a decent season back in 2021-22, the fans criticized him for not living up to the expectations. Moreover, he had an average of 18.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 7.1 apg in 78 games, always in the starting lineup.

Initially, the Lakers front office planned to arrange the trio of Superstars – LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook to lead them to a championship. But the franchise is still waiting for a title since the 2019-20 season. Moreover, Westbrook could not help the Lakers win their 18th championship. On the contrary, the Lakers could not even make the postseason in the 2021-2022 season. Hence, Rob Pelinka figured out that their initial plan was not working and decided to trade Westbrook. The plan did not work because the three superstars wanted equal time to handle the ball. Somebody needed to shoot the ball well. But it was difficult for Russell Westbrook in the beginning.

Darvin Ham Feels The Lakers Have A Roster Capable Of Winning Title

Darvin Ham
Darvin Ham Lakers Source: Sports Illustrated

The Lakers had a miraculous turnaround after trading Westbrook to the Utah Jazz. They reached the conference finals with a new group of players. In the current offseason, that is what the team wanted to focus on. Rob Pelinka wanted to keep the core together. Darvin Ham feels the front office has done an excellent job in free agency. The coach feels the team has got a roster that can win the next season. However, going back to the middle of the 2022-23 season, Westbrook was getting better as the Sixth Man.

It is his specialty. However, fans criticized him for not being an able shooter. Later, the Lakers Nation perceived Russell Westbrook as a liability. But the 34-year-old point guard was trying his best to contribute to scoring too. It became essential to trade him. Later in mid-February, Russell Westbrook joined the city rivals of the Lakers. He may suit better with Los Angeles Clippers if he gets more time to handle the ball. Rather than carrying the responsibility to score all the time.