With the Los Angeles Lakers aiming to make a run to the playoffs with 18 regular season games remaining, the purple and gold are experiencing some obstacles with LeBron James going down with a foot injury.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham already acknowledged that the rest of the team needs to step up in James’ absence and with L.A. currently 2-2 without the four-time NBA champion, the energy and sense of urgency the team has played with has kept them afloat without their superstar.
While James makes up a huge piece of the Lakers’ scoring pie, he also provides the front-court versatility, physicality and defensive effort that solidifies the team defense. Rui Hachimura is a prime candidate to step up and attempt to fill the King’s shoes on both ends of the floor.
Hachimura may not be as aggressive defensively and use his physicality the way James does, but Ham believes that he has that needs to change with LeBron out.
“I’m really pleased with the way he’s played up until this point. I’ve always encouraged him to just be more aggressive and be more physical,” Ham said. “People talk about with Bron and DLo not available that it needs to be scoring, scoring, scoring, but we need a physicality on the glass. We need a physicality defensively and offensively a physicality in terms of playing downhill and getting to the rim with aggression.
“So that’s the biggest thing I’ve been telling him. But up to this point, he’s been amazing. He’s been great to coach, he listens, he allows himself to be coached, he works hard and is trying to get better and we’re extremely happy to have him.”
Averaging nearly 12 points and five rebounds, Hachimura has been a great addition to help the Lakers win now and perhaps in the future as well if the 24-year-old gets re-signed.
It is no secret that it is going to take every member of the Lakers’ best effort to wheel the team through the remaining games with James out of the lineup. If Hachimura can continue to step up and other purple and gold teammates follow suit, the King can return to a Lakers team ready to cement their spot in the playoffs.
Hachimura focused on rebounding after talking to coaches
Professional basketball players are still finding ways to improve, even when they are already playing on the coveted NBA stage. For Hachimura, an area where he and the Lakers look for him to get better at is crashing the offensive and defensive glass.
Prior to Wednesday’s victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hachimura discussed with the Lakers coaching staff about them wanting him to focus on being aggressive on rebounding.
After tallying nine rebounds and three blocks in the Thunder win, it seems like the conversation Hachimura had with his coaches paid off. While his primary skillset is to score the basketball, the little things of physicality and rebounding will make the difference in L.A’s playoff aspirations.
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!