Darvin Ham employed a regular season rotation in the Los Angeles Lakers’ preseason contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves and there were some certainly some positives as well as negatives. Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis were excellent on the night, but Russell Westbrook struggled to make an impact in his 25 minutes.
Westbrook finished with just five points and four assists on the night, attempting just three shots total. This new role in Ham’s offense is an adjustment for Westbrook and how he has played throughout his career, but Ham believes there are plenty of opportunities for the points guard to impact the game in different ways once he is more comfortable.
“Again, we’re playing a positionless style so the opportunities are not gonna always come for him with the ball in your hands,” Ham noted after the game. “In terms of Russ, there’s running lanes, there’s guy that are willing passers that are gonna find him, we just got to commit to our running habits and our spacing. He can find himself in the corner, he can find himself in the dunker, he can find himself pushing and leading the break. And I think you saw all of that when we played Phoenix in Vegas.”
The game against the Suns was one of the most promising preseason games this year as everything seemed to click for the Lakers. Even the bench pushed out a lead against the Suns’ starters and Ham understands that it is still early in the process of figuring out and getting comfortable with his offense. “It’s something we got to work at and again, it’s just October. The system just doesn’t click overnight.
“Guys got to get accustomed to different habits and different ways of spacing, being in different positions. That’s why we practice, that’s why we go over certain things in shootaround. We’re trying to water that plant so that they can, again, as we get further along and open up the season, two months in, three months in, four months in, things don’t happen overnight. Especially, again, you’re talking about an individually talented roster in terms of not only Russ but AD, Bron.”
It takes time to build up the habits that Ham wants for this team and ideally, the further along they get, the easier things will become. Proper spacing and players running and cutting hard would greatly improve the offense and Ham made sure to note that all three of the Lakers stars have much room for improvement.
“There are things all of them need to do better in terms of running habits and things with the way we’re gonna space, screening angles, rolling all the way to the rim,” Ham noted. “A lot of people are not accustomed to that in terms of playing that type of style and playing faster. So I’m not discouraged. There’s gonna be that period of discovery where we just got to sit down and continue to pound out the film and continue to work on our habits in practice.”
As long as the players are committed and embrace the system, it should only be a matter of time before the Lakers start to see the results and, hopefully, more victories.
Westbrook discusses his adjustments to Lakers coach Darvin Ham’s system
Before this most recent contest, Westbrook had actually enjoyed a solid start to the preseason and is finding his role in Ham’s offense. The Lakers point guard spoke about the positives he sees in being able to get out in transition more, as well as having more space to attack the basket.
Westbrook also reiterated his confidence in himself as a shooter, adding that shot quality is extremely important and he must focus on not taking bad ones.
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