Darvin Ham: Lakers Are Hard To Beat When Rui Hachimura Is Playing Well
Rui Hachimura, Lakers
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Without LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers needed someone to step up in a big way against the Utah Jazz and Rui Hachimura was up to the task.

The forward had his best offensive game of his career, hitting 13-of-19 from the field and 6-of-8 from 3-point range to finish with a career-high 36 points in the Lakers’ 16-point win.

Hachimura has had an up-and-down season after signing a new contract last summer. He showed what he was capable of during the Lakers’ postseason run last year, but head coach Darvin Ham has struggled to get that same level of output consistently from the forward this year.

One thing that Ham feels is very important for Hachimura’s success is his aggression. Following the game, the Lakers coach spoke about dangerous he can be when he plays aggressive and that Hachimura has responded well to his coaches and teammates encouraging him, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“Extremely dangerous. In terms of his aggressiveness, he very rarely has two bad games in a row. I just told him before that New Orleans game in the second night of a back-to-back after losing to Denver, I need you to come out and play like a wild man. Just put your fingerprints all over the game.

“Just with your running habits, just that alone, you running with force, playing with pace, attacking the defensive glass, offensive glass, really working. He’s doing a much better job and he’s grown since we acquired him last year, just being good on the ball defensively and keeping the ball in front, coming back and helping support the defensive glass, getting offensive rebounds, playing in the pocket and setting screens.

“Giving us that physicality, whether it’s him being on the perimeter or him being along the front line in terms of the lineup. But he’s in a good space, he’s having fun with his teammates, having fun playing the game. He heard us loud and clear with us encouraging him. We need Rui to be great in order for us to be great. He’s one of the main pieces for us and when he’s playing like that along with all the other weapons we have, we’re a pretty hard team to beat.”

Hachimura playing at a high level raises the ceiling of the Lakers immensely. His size and scoring ability are difficult to deal with and his defense improving makes a big difference as well. James and Anthony Davis are going to come through, but the more players like Hachimura provide consistent support, the tougher the Lakers will be to defeat.

Rui Hachimura wants to be the X-factor for Lakers

For his part, Rui Hachimura understands how important he is to the success of this Lakers team and he wants to make an impact every time he steps on the court.

Hachimura says that his goal is to impact the game every time he is on the court and wants to be the X-factor for the Lakers whether he is starting or coming off the bench. The forward added that he wants to win and knows he must play with aggression in every facet of the game to help that happen.

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