Rui Hachimura becomes latest Lakers player to take a shot at Darvin Ham

Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the first half of the 2023-24 season with a big win against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. LeBron James didn't play in the game and it didn't matter much as Rui Hachimura stepped up and put the entire team on his back.

Hachimura scored 36 points with two rebounds and an assist en route to the 138-122 game. It was yet another strong performance from Hachimura, who has played well when given the chance by Darvin Ham this season.

Hachimura has not been utilized like fans hoped with Ham only turning to the former Wizard when he has been forced to. For most of the season, Hachimura was coming off the bench and was hardly getting playing time. But thanks to injuries and Ham finally falling out of love with Taurean Prince, Hachimura has been getting starts.

This is what Lakers fans have wanted all season: a lineup consisting of D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, LeBron James and Anthony Davis with Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt spliting most of the minutes in that fifth spot. It took far too long for Ham to go back to this lineup, which is why the team has struggled as much as it has.

Fans are not the only ones who knew this was the solution all along. LeBron James has made it obvious that he prefers this lineup, and after his scoring outburst, Hachimura made it obvious as well.

Rui Hachimura takes not-so-subtle shot at Darvin Ham over Lakers lineup

Preach, Rui, preach. This is the exact same argument that Lakers fans have been echoing all season and the message never seemed to get to the head coach. Instead of trotting out the best players in the biggest spots, Ham has played favorites and has over-complicated matters.

The numbers back up Hachimura's claims as well. Hachimura has only gotten 13 starts this season for the purple and gold. In those 13 starts, the Lakers are 9-4. In the 43 games that Hachimura hasn't started, the Lakers are 21-22.

Hachimura doesn't even have to necessarily start, either! When Vanderbilt returns from injury the team can go back to him starting with Hachimura getting ample playing time off the bench. Los Angeles just needs Hachimura to be a staple of the rotation and too often he hasn't been this season.

The Lakers are 21-12 when Hachimura plays 19 or more minutes in a game this season. When Hachimura doesn't play 19 minutes, or is out entirely with an injury, the Lakers are 9-14. It is undeniable that Hachimura is wildly important to this team and Ham is seemingly just now realizing it.

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