Darvin Ham looks worse as Lakers find success by using obvious formula

LA has gotten back to their winning ways thanks to a relatively simple adjustment.

Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers
Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For what feels like the first time all season, the Los Angeles Lakers are finally beginning to play well consistently. After sitting below .500 at the end of January following a road loss to the Atlanta Hawks, LA has rattled off eight wins in their last 11 games and are steadily climbing up the Western Conference standings.

Their improved play has been long overdue for a team that was touted as being one of the biggest winners of the 2023 offseason. Fans have been frustrated with some of Head Coach Darvin Ham's lineup decisions all season, but one recent lineup choice he made appears to have played a big part in the Lakers' turnaround.

Playing Taurean Prince in the starting unit for the majority of the season, Ham recently made a switch to re-insert Rui Hachimura into the first five on the floor. Since doing so, the Lakers have posted a 7-2 record, with one of the losses coming with LeBron James out.

Darvin Ham re-inserted Rui Hachimura into the starting lineup

This mirrors the tactic that Ham used post-deadline last season when he ran with Anthony Davis, LeBron, Austin Reaves, D'Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt to close the regular season. Ultimately, that lineup is what spurred an 18-8 finish to February, March and April last year before the team made their improbable run to the Western Conference Finals.

Hachimura was of course integral to the Lakers' playoff success last season, as he averaged 12.2 points on 55% shooting and a sizzling 48% from three-point range. Many fans are left wondering why the seemingly obvious decision to make him a full-time starter took so long in the current season.

For many, this will not be a positive reflection of the Lakers' coach. LA still has an outside chance to make another run like they did this time last year. But unless they end the playoffs holding up the Larry O'Brien trophy, the conversations will be around Ham making his big adjustment too late.