Newly appointed Lakers head coach Darvin Ham gives an insight into Russell Westbrook’s role in the upcoming season, focusing on the defensive aspect of schemes.
After weeks of speculations, the Lakers officially introduced Darvin Ham as their new head coach. GM Rob Pelinka and co-held a press conference at the UCLA Health Training Center for Coach Ham. The former NBA player turned coach looked in complete cruise control during the media interaction.
It was only a matter of time before the journalists brought up the subject of Russell Westbrook, who had one of the most scrutinizing years of his career last season. Despite the growing pressure of trading the former MVP, the front office has decided to run it back with him.
The marriage between the Lakers and Westbrook didn’t go as planned, with Brodie subjected to endless criticism and mockery. Westbrook’s inability to shoot and constant turnovers made him the favorite subject of trolls. Things became so ugly that the nine-time All-Star’s confidence looked shattered.
Nonetheless, Coach Ham has a plan of action for Russ to work on heading into the off-season. Ham aims to make Westbrook an elite defender.
Darvin Ham addresses the apprehensions around Russell Westbrook.
The 2021-22 season was a disappointing outing for the purple and gold, failing to make the postseason, sixteen games below +500. While there was a list of reasons behind this, Russ was made the poster boy for most of the setbacks during the season.
In what many believed, Westbrook appeared as a broken man with all the hate and negativity coming towards him, not sparing his family too. Thus when asked about the two-time scoring champion’s situation, Coach Ham said the following.
“I want him to feel loved, I want him to feel comfortable, you gonna bring him off the bench you gonna do this, no none of that stuff matters. I need him to set the tone defensively. He said he’s willing to do that. He’s made it his own personal mission to be better defensively”
Coach Ham mentioned how his conversation with Westbrook majorly dealt with sacrifice to achieve the larger goal. Ham had earlier mentioned how Russ still had a lot left in the tank, mentioning his list of accolades.
Ham’s constant pledge towards playing defense is similar to what former coach Frank Vogel adopted. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if Westbrook accepts his new role.