As a first-time head coach of an NBA franchise, Darvin Ham has been tasked with taking over a proud franchise in the Los Angeles Lakers and transforming it back into the title contender they have traditionally been.
One major factor in helping the Lakers undergo a massive turnaround next season will be what Ham intends to do with Russell Westbrook at point guard. The triple-double king is coming off an up and down season where he absorbed a lot of blame for the Lakers’ regular-season struggles and their tumble down the Western Conference standings.
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game on 44.4 percent shooting from the field and a 29.8 percent shooting from three-point range.
Heading into this next season, Ham said he plans to deploy Westbrook as the starting point guard of the Lakers. Ham also told Marc J. Spears of Andscape a little bit about his plans to use Westbrook, remaining mum on specific details but said that criticism of Westrbook and counting him out at 33-years-old would be “premature”.
“Counted out prematurely. Counted out. Prematurely.” Ham said about the disapproval the 2017 MVP received last year. “I’ve had some great interactions with Russ, in person, over dinner, over the phone, over text messages. I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach. Just to see him, a guy of that magnitude and everything he’s done in the league to get hated on.”
But being me, I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy. We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it.
“I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish,” new #Lakers coach Darvin Ham on Russell Westbrook. Ham also answers whether Russ will start. https://t.co/51ZOP7UtZ7 #nba
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) July 7, 2022
Ham also spoke about his thoughts about LeBron James and Anthony Davis, calling James “one of one” and a “rare commodity.” When AD came up, Ham called the 29-year-old forward the “biggest factor” and said he’s looking forward to The Brow “having a huge year this year.”
When it comes to championship expectations for next year, Ham says that he plans on building “winning habits” daily and will be “preaching daily preparation” to the Lakers daily. He also said that he will also be making sure to achieve a balance during the tough days of the regualr season. If they go on a three-game losing streak, Ham will take the team out and them “check out the African American museum” instead of conducting a “kick-ass practice”.
The details of the plans could all sound pretty good to the Lakers roster and their fans. Ham will have a different cache with the Lakers roster as a former player. As a first-time head coach of an older roster headline by James, Davis, and Westbrook, putting the ideas into reality will be a different story.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, Vice president Rob Pelinka, and James will have to put their faith in Ham to be the solution they need to regain relevancy.