Lakers News: Russell Westbrook Discusses His Adjustments To Darvin Ham’s System
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook has put in a couple of solid shifts for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2022 preseason, showing glimpses of his dominant self in the losses to the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns.

Westbrook’s defense continues to disappoint, but the 2017 NBA MVP did a good job at orchestrating L.A.’s offense in his two preseason appearances. He also went 2-for-4 from downtown, showing an improved aim after knocking down just 29.8% of his triples last year.

The Lakers expected Westbrook to fit better with head coach Darvin Ham in charge. And the 33-year-old guard has told Southern California News Group’s Kyle Goon that Ham’s new system deserves credit for his good start to the preseason:

“Definitely different – just the ability to be able to get in the open floor, attack with space, take my time,” he said after Saturday’s Lakers practice. “Miss or make, shots will come as the season prolongs. But just get in that rhythm and know that I can get to any spot that I want to and get in-rhythm shots for sure, so far.”

Westbrook added he still has confidence in his jump shoot despite his shooting woes in 2021-22. In addition, the guard said he has been trying to be more mindful of his decision-making this year in an effort to improve his shot quality:

“I know I’m a good shooter, and I’m very confident in myself and my ability to shoot the basketball,” he said. “Just continue working on my craft as I always have, and take good shots. The quality of shots is important. Making sure I’m not taking the bad ones is something I try to emphasize, attacking the basket.”

Westbrook will likely start the 2022-23 season in the starting lineup despite rumors that claimed Ham has considered using the guard off the bench. But the playmaker will have to justify his starting role with consistency and effort — not only because of a potential benching but also the Lakers’ readiness to reshape the roster even after the 2022-23 campaign’s tip-off.

Ham reiterates support for Westbrook amid constant trade rumors

Ham has been a vocal supporter of Westbrook since taking over in L.A. despite the Lakers’ efforts to trade him in the summer.

And the head coach recently reiterated his support for the beleaguered guard, saying he wants him to do well in 2022-23. “He’s ours, and we love him,” Ham said.

“I have a plan and that plan included him and they gave me the job. So it’s been a great camp for him. He’s played well, energy has been through the roof. It’s been great. All of the guys for that matter.”

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