Remember the tumultuous start to last season, when Los Angeles Lakers fans all over the globe were petitioning for Darvin Ham’s early exit as the head coach? Props to Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka for remaining patient with him through the team’s initial trials and tribulations, because that all seems like a faint memory now.
Upon the announcement that Ham would be the next shot-caller at the head of the snake, many around the league had high expectations for what the team could do under his tutelage. While the Ham hiring was met with heavy praise, the front office completely whiffed throughout the rest of the 2022 offseason.
No offense to Pat Bev, but there is no way that he should be considered the top offseason acquisition for any team’s front office. Unfortunately for the new Lakers coach and his assistant coaching colleagues, that was the case.
Not only that, but Russell Westbrook returned to Tinsel Town as a member of the purple and gold. After what was probably the worst overall season in Lakers history in 2021-2022 from an expectations-to-results perspective, Russ should have been gone prior to Ham’s hiring.
Despite his best efforts to instill confidence in the future Hall of Famer, the two seemed to clash behind the scenes quite consistently throughout the year (even prior to the official start to the season). It was a shock to no one when the two’s rocky relationship inevitably pushed the organization over the edge, and Russ was sent packing.
But that was then, and this is now. This offseason, Pelinka ran laps around the rest of NBA GMs in terms of the moves that he made. He not only put together a team that has a ton of talent, but he put together a team that should be much more suitable to Ham’s coaching style.
Now, Darvin Ham has a Lakers puzzle to put together that could be masterful.
Obviously, this is a team with some serious strengths (and weaknesses, but as of now the positives would appear to greatly outweigh the negatives). The Lakers are now equipped with a humongous amount of offensive firepower, but defense has always been the name of the game for Ham.
There are few guys on this roster that fit the label of “poor” defenders, with D’Angelo Russell and Christian Wood possibly being the only two of the bunch within that category. However, with Ham’s reputation as a player’s coach, there should be a lot of belief in his ability to get those guys to buy in and consciously put in the effort on D.
Christian Wood already has a previously established relationship with his new head coach, and reiterated his desire to follow Ham’s lead. If he backs his words from those statements and D’Lo prioritizes stops over stats, this could be the best defensive team in the NBA. Actually, it could be one of the better defensive teams of all-time if everything falls into place.
The team will surely be met with adversity throughout the 2023-2024 season. That is simply a part of an 82-game schedule. With that being said, we have already bore witness to Darvin Ham’s ability to maneuver his men through those trying times.
After the 2-10 start to last year, no one anticipated this team’s push to the Western Conference Finals. And while the guys on the court are always going to receive the credit, it is the man on the sidelines who is responsible for rallying his troops.
This is a man who understands how to inspire those that he leads. Things might not always go according to plan, and he might have made some questionable calls with his lineups last season, but his growth as a head coach from the opening gun of the 2022-2023 season to the finish line was critical to the team’s overall success.
So get your salsa shoes on Laker fans, because it is time to dance. And with Darvin Ham as our instructor, you can rest assured in knowing that we should be in store for a lot of fun.