Although the final two preseason games were meant for Darvin Ham to dole out regular season minutes and rotations, the Los Angeles Lakers were blown out in both contests.
Ham has preached the importance of competitiveness on a nightly basis, but the Lakers basically no-showed in their last two preseason games. They were dispiriting performances for a team that has almost no margin for error during the 2022-23 season.
However, it was hard to truly evaluate the roster as injuries left them devoid of key rotation players. Despite the ailments, Ham believes things will get better once everyone’s back to full strength, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“The biggest thing for us is to get whole. For us to have our guys available and ready to compete and go into the regular season with good momentum. Even though you go through…you suffer a loss like this tonight, Opening Night we’ll have AD, we’ll have Lonnie, ‘Bron. We got ‘Bron through the preseason injury-free. Pat Bev…it’s unfortunate Russ tweaked his hammy tonight, but we’ll check in back in on that in the morning. Dennis obviously has the issue with his thumb, but the biggest thing is for us to get back whole.
“I really feel like we made some really good strides and implementing our new system offensively and defensively and once we get our main guys back out there together in rhythm, things will be a little bit different for sure. And again, we’re at the starting blocks of a marathon so it’s gonna take some time.”
Ham also went into great detail about the blowout losses emphasized the type of spirit and mentality he wants to see from the Lakers going forward:
“Well the one thing we can never do is have moments of disappointment during the game. We have to have a next play mentality. You have those disappointment moments, whether it’s one individual, two individuals and you got the other four, three competing their behinds off it can cost you four or five possessions easy. Definitely two or three. You feel like you didn’t get the call, or the ref wouldn’t blow their whistle. Someone took a bad shot when you were open and you’re upset about that.
“And I’m speaking in general terms. It’s just the natural causes that happen within a game –the so-called game within the game– there’s a disappointment spirit to the game just like there’s a competitive spirit to the game. And if you’re not able to conquer that disappointment spirit and again have a next play mentality then you’re gonna have situations where you have these lopsided losses or a lopsided win that goes in your favor because you maintained your competitive spirit and your opposing team has a disappointment spirit.
“Trying to manage that and understanding like…again, looking at it for what it is no disrespect for anybody that was on the floor for us but our main guys. For various reasons, they’ve been in and out of the lineup and players want to play well and sometimes things don’t go their way it’s human nature to drop your head or just kinda not move as quickly back down the floor to the next play. But no one’s gonna feel sorry for you, especially when you’re a Laker. No one’s gonna feel sorry for you. We have to understand that and embrace that. Not just understand it, but embrace it and use it for fuel and be ready to go out and compete irregardless of what may be happening or what happened the last play or the last two plays. We gotta have a next play mentality.”
It’s clear Ham knows how he wants his players to play, and the first couple of weeks of the 2022-23 season will be worth watching to see if the team heeds his message.
Russell Westbrook explains adjustments to Darvin Ham’s system
One player who never lacks competitive spirit or a next play mentality is Russell Westbrook who always gives more than 100 percent on the floor. Ham imagines Westbrook playing a big role for the team this year, and the point guard explained how he has been able to adjust to his new head coach’s system.
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