The Los Angeles Lakers took a step in the right direction on Monday night by beating an Oklahoma City Thunder team that has looked like the best team in the Western Conference. There is still a lot of work to be done as the Lakers are under .500, but it could be the launching-off point that this team needs.
Head coach Darvin Ham decided to spice things up in the game and go back to the original starting five that he started the season with. This brought D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves back into the starting five alongside Taurean Prince, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While the Lakers won the game, this was not the change that fans wanted. Lakers fans want to see Ham go back to last year's lineup that had Jarred Vanderbilt starting in place of Prince. At first, it looked like Ham was going in that direction but there was a miscommunication with reporters that ultimately broke Lakers fans' hearts.
Ham probably should have gone with that starting lineup as the Lakers could have won by more if he did. While Los Angeles won the game, it was not because Prince was in the starting lineup over Vanderbilt.
Even in a Lakers win, Darvin Ham is made to look foolish by Taurean Prince
The entire reason why Ham starts Prince, in theory, is because he is someone who can defend at a high level and can knock down three-point shots. But as seen in the video above, Prince is far from being an elite defender and his shot was not falling in this game.
Prince played 31 minutes in this game. In those 31 minutes, he finished with three points, three assists and two rebounds. Prince shot 1-6 from the field, including 1-5 from beyond the arc. He was the only player in the starting five to have a negative plus/minus.
Prince was a -1 while Vanderbilt was a +5 in his 18 minutes. Vanderbilt played better defense and made both of his shots, although neither were threes. Rui Hachimura was a +6 in his 20 minutes and led all bench scorers with 12 points.
Prince is a fine role player that can give a team 18-20 solid minutes off the bench yet Ham has consistently treated him like he is an impact starter. In the previous three seasons, Prince had just 12 games with 30+ minutes played. He has already doubled that this season with 24 games with 30+ minutes. That is just unacceptable.
But hey, since the Lakers won this game Darvin Ham does not have to answer for his obvious wrongdoings. He will keep trotting Prince out there and continue to push back on his job security when the Lakers inevitably struggle.