After a disappointing 2021-22 season, Frank Vogel naturally became the scapegoat for the Los Angeles Lakers. Vogel was far from perfect but he became the fall guy for reasons that were not directly his fault. Less than two calendar years after winning the title, Vogel was out.
After flirting with Doc Rivers for a few weeks, the Lakers hired Darvin Ham to be the team’s next head coach. Ham was one of the most respected assistant coaches in the league with a decade’s worth of experience coaching on Mike Budenholzer’s staff.
The honeymoon phase with Ham did not last very long with some of his coaching decisions getting dissected early on in the season. Now as we head into February, Ham has lost a lot of favor with the fanbase, bringing up a common question.
Are we sure Darvin Ham is the right man to be Lakers head coach?
A lot of Ham’s issues as head coach were on full display in Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Ham has struggled with rotations, particularly in crunch time, and has thrown out some pretty questionable lineups that have cost the Lakers games.
Every Lakers fan is sick of seeing the team run three-guard lineups despite the fact that they simply do not work. More specifically, Ham showed no feeling for the game against the Nets, benching Wenyen Gabriel in the fourth quarter despite Gabriel being a key reason why the Lakers came back to make it competitive in the third quarter.
Everything Ham was preaching before the season has not come to fruition, either. Before the season, Ham stressed that his team would play hard defense and commit to being one of the best defensive teams in the league. The pieces on the roster aren’t great but the Lakers have been far from a defensive juggernaut (and haven’t shown this intense level of effort that Ham stresses).
Los Angeles ranks 18th in defensive rating and 27th in opponent’s points per game. So much for being a good defense.
Ham also said before the season that he would monitor LeBron James and Anthony Davis to ensure that they don’t get too much playing time, saying “I don’t need Bron or AD playing playoff minutes in October, November, December”. That ended up not being true as Davis got hurt and LeBron has dealt with a huge workload this season.
The Los Angeles Lakers' options at the trade deadline are starting to shrink as one potential dream target is no longer available.
As bad as last season, the Lakers actually have a worse record at this point in the calendar than they did a year ago. Things unraveled for Los Angeles at the end of the season and with Ham’s flaws, that very well could happen again in 2023.