With all of the new pieces the Los Angeles Lakers added at the trade deadline, the pressure will now be on head coach Darvin Ham and the coaching staff to integrate everyone together and make this team a success. So far the early returns are positive, but the Lakers still find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture at this moment.
The Lakers now have two consecutive blowout victories over teams ahead of them in the standings and the chemistry and fit of this team look to be much improved. Of course, all of the talk surrounding the Lakers is about making that run to the playoffs and Ham not only believes this team is capable of doing so but can do some damage when they get there.
“Absolutely. And you have to believe that,” Ham said after the Lakers’ win over the Golden State Warriors. “You can’t go in and say ‘the playoffs, I don’t know. Maybe we win a game or two or a series.’ You have to be confident. You have to be confident in your ballclub and everyone in the building. So yes, I do like our chances but again, we have to worry about tomorrow. We have to worry about Dallas next up. We can’t get to talking about the end of March or early April. We have business to handle right now in the moment.
“I feel great about what we’ve been able to do. Rob did a fantastic job highlighting different players that can fill different needs and we put our heads together and we keep on it and it’s paying dividends right now. We just got to continue to get more and more familiar with one another so we can get to the point where we show the world what we’re capable of doing.”
Against the Warriors, it was one of those new players in Malik Beasley who sparked things for the Lakers, knocking down seven 3-pointers and leading the team with 25 points. At one point, the broadcast even showed an exchange in which Darvin Ham implored the wing to keep shooting the ball and not hesitate.
Beasley’s 25 points equaled the combined total of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Earlier in the season an offensive performance from the Lakers’ stars would basically guarantee a loss, but Ham believes the margin for error on this team has increased with their new additions. Though he doesn’t want them acting like that’s the case.
“Yeah, I think it has, but I think we still have that mentality of we don’t want any slippage,” Ham added. “We want to be as tight as we can possibly be in terms of crossing our Ts and dotting our Is, making sure we’re getting better and better within ourselves and execution on offense and really buckling down and digging our heels in the dirt in terms of guarding people and getting stops.
“But yeah, having Beas just out there as a sniper, nonstop staying aggressive. Austin, Rui, all of those guys along with Bron and AD, they don’t have to carry as big of a load. You got Dennis. So adding those pieces, we had to shift some pieces around within our rotation but at the end of the day, I think it brings more balance because we have guys in that second unit that have been in the starting lineup and played starter’s minutes and closed games for us and had big games. So we have confidence in the entire roster.”
The depth of this Lakers team has greatly increased, but just as important, everyone on the team understands the goal they are pushing for. “I just think guys know what’s at hand. They know we don’t have a lot more time or games to waste,” Ham said. “They know we got to maximize each day whether it’s a game day or non-game day and a practice day with a focus on how we can get better as a group on both sides of the ball.”
The energy surrounding this Lakers team is completely different than earlier in the season and if they can continue to grow and remain on the same page, there is little doubt they can accomplish the goals they have set out.
Austin Reaves says Lakers’ energy is at an all-time high since trade deadline
Of course, those who were with the Lakers prior to the trade deadline have a good idea of how things were beforehand and Austin Reaves believes the energy around the team is higher than it has ever been.
“It’s a new energy with the new guys,” Reaves said. “Every one of them has brought something different to the team and like I said, the energy around the group is at an all-time high right now. I think the playstyle that we got from the trades fits what we needed.”
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