Darvin Ham Believes Russell Westbrook Can Fit On Lakers; Stresses Importance Of Making Sacrifices
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have made it official as they have introduced Darvin Ham as the team’s new head coach in a press conference on Monday afternoon.

The pressure will be on immediately as this franchise is always focused on winning championships and with the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the expectations are high.

Last season, those three did not fit as well as they had hoped, though there wasn’t much chance for them to play together due to injury. But Ham is confident in his ability to get the best out of them and plans on holding everyone accountable.

“It’s how can they compete together, you know what I’m saying? It starts on the defensive end and from there we’re gonna build back toward the offense,” Ham said at his introductory press conference. “I think the type of spacing, a 4-out, 1-in style, which I’m going to implement, is gonna help all parties. My goal is, again, to continue with the development of our younger players, and to make those guys comfortable where they’re not having to run to the telephone booth and throw a cape on and try to save the day. Everything has to be a team effort again, competitive, together and accountable.

“And if there’s mistakes made, I have to be able to coach those three guys like I do the rest of the roster. We have a saying, ‘facts over feelings’ and once you see the film and it’s a fact that you missed your assignment then that has to be pointed out because if I can’t point that out to one of our Big 3, then the last man or someone in the rotation, they’re not gonna take what we’re doing seriously. So it has to be consistent across the board.”

Ham touched on a lot of things with all of them being extremely important. He gave a glimpse into the offensive style he plans on implementing which is what he will be taking from his time with Mike Budenholzer with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks over the past nine years and that is definitely much different than what the Lakers have run recently.

But perhaps the most important thing he spoke on was accountability and the need to be able to hold every player on the roster accountable from the top down. That is something that will garner him respect throughout the locker room.

Of course, when it comes to the roster overall, Westbrook is the biggest question mark as it remains unclear whether he will be with the Lakers next season. Westbrook was in the building for the press conference and Ham had a lot of praise for the future Hall of Famer.

“Russell, don’t get it messed up. Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen and there’s still a ton left in that tank. I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off. I’m gonna approach him like I do every player I’ve ever encountered. We’re gonna talk about our running habits, with the ball, without the ball, and again the team, the rhythm of the team and trying to establish a rhythm with LeBron, Russ, AD. And again share the load defensively and offensively.”

“Defensively is where you’re gonna see us make our biggest leaps and bounds. We have to commit to the defensive side of the ball or we don’t have a chance to do anything. Our offense won’t even matter if we don’t get stops.”

Defense is where the Lakers saw a drop last season and Ham plans on turning that around immediately. It is where he hung his hat as a player and he understands that the Lakers’ success hinges on the ability of everyone on the team, from James, Davis and Westbrook on down, to buy into that and if they can’t he will make sure they know it.

Ham added that he has already spoken with Westbrook and explained what his message was.

“I would say yes, Russ and I have had some really great 1-on-1 convos and the biggest word I think that came out of those discussions was sacrifice. That was the biggest word, sacrifice. We’re gonna sacrifice whatever we got to do, and it’s not just Russ. There’s gonna be sacrifices that LeBron has to make, that AD has to make, on down the line through the rest of our roster.

“Again, we have to start on the defensive end and in terms of what his role is gonna be, I’m gonna expect him to be the same tenacious high-energy player that he’s been his entire career. A lot of it now may happen without the ball in his hands. Most of it now may happen on the defensive end, but again, we have to sacrifice. There’s no achieving anything without all parties sharing the load, sacrificing and depending on one another.

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