Balancing things for the preseason is always a very thin line, which is certainly the case for Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham. The first-time coach must balance players getting minutes together to build chemistry and figuring out rotations while not overworking his veterans.
So far, Ham has done an admirable job, with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Patrick Beverley all sitting out multiple games this preseason. But now, with the regular season right around the corner, Ham plans on kicking things up.
Following the Lakers’ victory over the Golden State Warriors, Ham revealed that he plans on the final two preseason games being much closer to a regular season game in terms of minutes and rotations via Spectrum SportsNet:
“You look at the preseason schedule and you sit down with your guys, your main guys, top guys. And again you’re strategic about which games you want to participate in. Leave some time in the middle to see how their body reacts, to build back up and then finalize with the last two preseason games.
“I mean, we went to Pechanga, back. Vegas, back. Now we’re up here, back-to-back in the preseason so it’s been an interesting schedule to say the least. But we feel good about the plan that we’ve set forth and we’ve left ourselves some room at certain points within the schedule that we can pivot one way or another. And we feel good, we feel good about where we are. Those last two games will be more regular season like in terms of the rotation and who’s available so we feel like we’re right on course with what we need to do.”
For the most part, the Lakers’ preseason schedule has seen them hit the normal stops, but that back-to-back undoubtedly raised some eyebrows. Nonetheless, Ham feels good about the progress being made, and now everyone will get a closer look at what to expect once the season begins.
This will be the first glimpse at expected starters, rotations and lineup combinations, and minutes, which will be crucial, especially for James and Davis. There have been some encouraging signs throughout the preseason, and these last two contests serve as the final test before games start counting.
Ham plans on Exploring Different Lineups
Even with these last two contests being more like the regular season, that doesn’t mean the Laker’s rotation will go down significantly. New coach Darvin Ham plans on using the regular season to explore different lineup combinations and keep everyone ready.
“I want to explore the entire lineup. I think we have elements of playing big, elements of playing small, elements of playing super small with LeBron at the 5 sometimes,” Ham recently noted. “We’ve assembled what I feel is a defensive-minded, really versatile group. And I want to be able to explore everything within it until I can’t, you know what I mean?”
The Lakers coach would continue. “So I’m not one that’s gonna limit myself to a seven or eight-man lineup throughout the season. I’m gonna use as many pieces as I possibly can that I have at my disposal to put together the best lineup we can possibly have, multiple lineups that we can use throughout the course of the game, especially through the course of different stretches of the season.”
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