In his first press conference, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham wasn’t shy about what he wants from the team next season — accountability, toughness, sacrifice and togetherness.
Hopefully, Ham didn’t pay too much attention to the Lakers last season because they lacked practically all of those, especially on defense. Ham has his hands full with injecting the roster and finding the right players that offer those traits.
First, he has to find his vision as a coach. Whereas Frank Vogel had the reputation of a defensive mind, Ham would have to build his. Being that it’s his first gig as head coach, Ham’s philosophy might take time.
It’s implied Ham will start on defense because of his time with Mike Budenholzer. However, he laid out a different approach for his on-court vision:
“I mean, I think it’s a 360-degree, coaching style, meaning both parts of the floor are connected. You hear about these offensive gurus, or these defensive gurus, both sides of the ball off affect one another,” Ham said. “If you’re able to play great defense, then your offense is going to look great, because you’re not playing against a set defense. If you’re allowing people to score, then your offense is going to struggle because you’re playing against a set defense.
“So you just have to be well-rounded. And we used to talk about that a lot in our coaches’ meetings with Coach Bud but you know, you have these offensive guys or defensive guys. So when the defensive guys watching the defense, when the ball goes on offense does he drop his head and stop paying attention to the game? Like you have to watch the game in its totality and everything you do from the practice floor.”
Ham will likely look for more two-way players that fit his vision of being well-rounded. There aren’t many players who fit the build Ham’s talking about, but he has some at his disposal for his vision.
In Milwaukee, Ham worked with two adaptive stars that had relentless effort — Giannis Antentokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Anthony Davis and LeBron James breathe versatility on both ends. Russell Westbrook struggled with it last season.
Ham hopes continuity across all aspects of the team will help his vision appear on the floor.
“The preparation is the key to it. Because it’s the practice floor, it’s the individual workouts in the summer, the practice floor, shootaround then the game floor, but they all have to be connected with a lot of film in between,” Ham said. “So the way we develop our guys, we make them cerebral players by watching film and then making sure what they watch in the film translates to the game floor.
“And once we get on the game floor, we’re going to understand who’s supposed to be doing what but we’re all together. We’re all united and locked in everyone that has each other’s back. And it makes it for more fun environment. But it’s more about the environment more about again, the culture you set, just being competitive, being together and being accountable.”
Ham says Russell Westbrook accepted challenge to play defense
Westbrook struggled mightily on both sides of the ball last season. While his offense became a weak link, his defense hurt the Lakers as much. He was often caught ball watching and seemed disinterested in defending.
However, it may be different this season. Ham recently said that Westbrook is prepared to buy in on defense and sacrifice for the team. Sacrifice has been a key point for Westbrook so far and it seems he’s ready to committ to it.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!