It is a brave new era for the LA Lakers after appointing Darvin Ham as the man to succeed Frank Vogel. Ham was introduced to the media earlier this week and the pressure will be on him to hit the ground running.
Vogel paid the price for a dismal season in charge of the Lakers, as they finished 11th in the Western Conference, and they failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The sacking of Vogel comes just two years after he guided them to an NBA title success when they saw off Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals.
However, times have changed and Ham will be fully aware of the prestige and expectation levels surrounding the Lakers. Ham has become the 28th coach in the Lakers’ history and he has a sizeable in-tray.
One of the biggest issues he will have to resolve is how he can get the best out of Russell Westbrook. In many respects, Westbrook has failed to live up to the hype and last season, he averaged a mere 18.5 points per game as well as 7.1 assists.
The defense has also been a concern as opponents were able to shoot 3.3% better than their normal averages when Westbrook was guarding them in the 2021/22 campaign. But Ham has already outlined the plans he has for Westbrook next season.
He said: “Russ and I had some really, really great one-on-one convos, man, and the biggest word I think that came out of that, those discussions was ‘sacrifice’.
“I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career. A lot of that now may have him without the ball in hand.”
“There’s no achieving anything without all parties sharing the load, sacrificing, instead of one-on-one.”
Of course, giving LeBron James a license to roam free will also be key as James is one of the best players with the ball in hand and he is always menacing when it comes to offensive plays.
Currently, the Lakers will be watching on from afar as the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics are contesting the NBA Finals, and there will be a feeling of disappointment in the Lakers camp that they couldn’t make the playoffs this time round.
Nevertheless, after the appointment of Ham, there may be a renewed sense of optimism that the Lakers can push on next season and restore the glory days. Aside from having a huge fan base, the Lakers usually attract a lot of interest from leading bookmakers all over the world, including bet365 in Australia. Ahead of the new season, there will be plenty of futures odds posted and the Lakers will carry more favor in terms of attracting short odds to reach the playoffs.
For the Lakers, the arrival of Ham should be seen as a clean slate, a chance to break away from Vogel and put some pride back into the shirt. If the likes of James, Westbrook and co can buy into Ham’s philosophy, then there is no reason why Ham can’t transform the Lakers into a winning machine again.