2 Obvious, 2 subtle moves Darvin Ham must make to turn Lakers into legit contenders

There are some obvious and subtle decisions Ham can make to level this team up.

Rui Hachimura, Los Angeles Lakers
Rui Hachimura, Los Angeles Lakers / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Subtle: Shorter leash for Reaves

Lakers fans have witnessed the evolution of Austin Reaves in real time. Going undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft, Reaves signed a two-way deal with the Lakers before being converted to a standard contract less than two months later.

The rest of course, is history. Austin went on to become a reliable fixture in the Lakers' rotation his rookie year before enjoying a breakout season in 2022-23. Now, he remains one of the team's most reliable bucket-getters.

Reaves is currently averaging the fourth-most points per game on LA's roster with 15.7, right behind D'Angelo Russell. His main deficiencies come on the defensive end of the floor. Austin is not a great defender, but he is still extremely valuable because of his scoring ability. What Darvin Ham needs to do is have situational awareness when it comes to Reaves' struggles.

If Austin is having an off night offensively, Ham would do best to give him a shorter leash moving forward and not hesitate to bench him. Reaves can become a liability if his shot is not falling, and keeping him on the floor anyway has led to some blown leads and missed opportunities for the Lakers.

I am not lobbying for Austin to be benched altogether, as he will certainly be an important piece in the playoff rotation. But Ham should simply keep a sharp eye out for situations where Reaves being on the floor may end up hurting more than it helps.

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