Lakers News: Darvin Ham Explains Thinking Behind Current Starting & Bench Lineups
Darvin Ham, Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So far, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has done a good job in his first year manning the sidelines.

Ham has already had to deal with several injuries to key players, yet he and the Lakers have managed to overcome their slow start to the 2022-23 season recently. One move that’s looking like it might save their season is moving Russell Westbrook to the bench, a decision that was controversial when it was first proposed in the offseason.

The Lakers have made a lot of lineup changes this season, but Ham seems to have settle on a starting line that includes LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV.

It can be argued that Westbrook and others like Austin Reaves and Troy Brown Jr. should start given their strong play, as well as the struggles of Beverley, in particular. But Ham explained he likes the balance that’s created with his point guard and bench guys, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“Absolutely. Provide that balance, one-two punch. I think every good team has to have a one-two punch. You have your guys who initiate the game with, and you have your guys that you come off with that sustains you hopefully.

“And if need be, again, take you up but not to make you more productive. And putting those guys around Russ was very deliberate, and I just think he’s able to playcall and those guys fit him. Fit his game and they’re all capable from the perimeter. And he just gets to live in the paint. Whether it’s penetrating in transition, posting up, or playing downhill in the pick and roll. For me it’s a balance thing, and I think they balance him out very, very well.”

Westbrook has clearly thrived with the up-tempo bench unit, giving him the freedom and authority to push the ball and make plays for himself or others. He’s also seemingly taken his new role in stride, not complaining about it even when his co-stars are unavailable.

The former MVP’s fit next to James and Davis is average at best, but Ham’s decision to split them up has worked wonders so far. Although Los Angeles still has a ways to go to get back into playoff contention, they are taking steps in the right direction.

Anthony Davis believes he, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook are figuring it out

During the 2021-22 season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Lakers’ Big 3 experiment was a bust. However, this year that’s been a different story as the three have had moments of brilliance when sharing the court together. The improvement is notable, and even Anthony Davis believes the trio is finally starting to figure it out on the floor.

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