Lakers News: Darvin Ham Happy With Wenyen Gabriel’s Play But Wants To Continue Building His Confidence
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

This season has seen Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham turn to every player on the roster at some point to give them an opportunity to contribute to the team. One player who has earned himself a spot in the rotation is energetic big man Wenyen Gabriel.

Gabriel has basically been the only true big man other than Anthony Davis to receive regular minutes for the Lakers and he has responded well. He is extremely active on both ends of the floor, attacks the glass relentlessly and just brings an energy to the Lakers that is much-needed.

Ham certainly sees potential in the 25-year-old forward and notes that the coaching staff is focused on building his confidence. “He’s able to play both frontcourt positions in terms of power forward and center,” Ham said prior to the Lakers’ contest against the Indiana Pacers. “He’s athletic, he’s competitive, he has a defensive mindset, plays above the rim, great hands, plays the right way, plays hard.

“With him playing like that, it’s just about building his confidence. He tends to get down on himself a little bit when he makes a mistake but at the end of the day, we snap him out of it real quick. You got to have a short memory in this league whether you’re doing stuff good or doing something bad, you made a mistake, you got to have a next-play mentality. So it’s been exciting to see him.”

This mindset is something that can be tough for many young players to develop, especially one in a position like Gabriel who is still early in his career and trying to prove he belongs in the league. When a player puts too much focus on the mistakes, it can prevent them from doing the things they do best and the Lakers need Gabriel doing what he does best.

Coincidentally, Ham was actually familiar with Gabriel before he became head coach of the Lakers as hel was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, last season.

“I first engaged with him back in my Milwaukee days when he was with the Herd,” Ham added. “And we were excited about the potential of him coming up to our level with the Bucks and then COVID, all that stuff, started happening so he got snatched away. But I’m excited about Wenyen and his potential and his future.”

Players like Gabriel will almost always find a place in the NBA simply by outworking everyone else. He is already building great chemistry with Russell Westbrook and if he continues to develop, especially offensively, the Lakers will have themselves a player to keep around.

Anthony Davis puts blame on players after Darvin Ham takes blame in Pacers loss

Gabriel’s five points and nine rebounds were not enough to push the Lakers to victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday as the team collapsed in the fourth quarter. Head coach Darvin Ham took the blame for the loss, but Anthony Davis did not agree.

“It’s not just on him. It’s on us too,” Davis said. “I mean, we got enough years in the league for the guys that were on the floor late game to execute. Obviously, he’s a coach, you take the blame. But it’s on us players to go out there and execute. We know what we’re doing. We’re talented enough and smart enough on the floor to win a basketball game like that. Even I think with 3.5 [minutes] left, we were probably up nine. So it’s not on him.

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