Ranking all 7 Lakers head coaches since Phil Jackson from "bad" to "scapegoat"

After firing Darvin Ham, the Los Angeles Lakers have now had seven head coaches since Phil Jackson. Which one has been the best, and which one the worst?
Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers
Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages
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No. 2: Darvin Ham

It is both an indictment of the rest of the head coaches on this list and a vote of support for the coach the Lakers just fired that Darvin Ham appears at No. 2 on this list.

A longtime assistant coach under Mike Budenholzer, Darvin Ham got his first head coaching opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022, when he was hired to replace Frank Vogel. Ham had a level of toughness and honesty to him that appealed to Lakers management, and his history as an NBA player was expected to help him connect with the Lakers' veterans.

Ham was then handed a roster that contained LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two cornerstone players to build on...and otherwise, a roster that was ill-fitting and underperforming, with Russell Westbrook as the poster child. Ham, to his credit, got the team pulling in the same direction and Westbrook to agree to a bench role.

When the Lakers then traded Westbrook at the Tradde Deadline and got back a number of players, Ham was able to take a better-fitting and improved roster and get to work. The Lakers played well to end the season, then won two series to reach the Western Conference Finals.

His second season was a more difficult one, as the Lakers lost that sense of pulling in the same direction and weren't able to build on the late-season success of the year before. They snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed and lost in five games to the Denver Nuggets, costing Ham his job.

Did Ham's tough-guy message get stale after just one season? The Budenholzer disciple surprisingly struggled to craft lineups that would excel and was constantly changing those lineups and the rotation as a whole, something that didn't endear him to his veterans. At the same time, the reason he kept shuffling the lineups was that the players he had to work with didn't fit together extremely well.

Darvin Ham was a better coach than his two-year firing would suggest, and it's possible that his replacement is even worse than he was and the Lakers regret firing him. He also didn't do anything to excel and with a Lakers franchise that always has the highest of expectations that was enough to see him out the door.