New Lakers coach Darvin Ham has a daunting to-do list – Press Enterprise

What Darvin Ham has accomplished in the past month shouldn’t be ignored: the 48-year-old used more than a decade of experience as an NBA assistant to earn a top job by beating two other former head coaches.

Still, Ham is likely to find that, on a relative scale, getting the job was the easy part.

The Lakers have yet to officially announce their head coaching hire, but you can bet Ham is getting down to business on one of the most demanding and scrutinized jobs in the league – he was at El Segundo in team premises on Saturday.

As a former Lakers assistant coach under Mike Brown, he knows how quickly the pressure can mount. As a star consultant with a history of player development, he knows how difficult it can be to deal with superstars and their egos.

Here are some of the main items on Ham’s to-do list now that he’s the choice:

1. Gather experienced staff

For rookie head coaches – even those as experienced as Ham – there are always bumps in the road. Head coaches have to learn the nuances of game management, work on delegation, and inevitably face surprises here and there at the start. Naturally, the Lakers are interested in recruiting head coaching talent around him, ESPN reported, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they tried to convince Terry Stotts or Kenny Atkinson, the other two finalists for the job, to join. consult Ham. In the past, this has been a concern for the front office: they first scrutinized head coach Luke Walton’s staff, then played a big role in hiring Frank Vogel’s assistants. How much control will Ham have over who is on his bench?

Recall that Ham is part of Mike Budenholzer’s coaching tree, which also includes Quin Snyder and Taylor Jenkins. Is he starting to recruit backbench coaches willing to take a front seat among either of these staffs? He also has the somewhat awkward role of deciding who could stay on Vogel’s staff, many of whom have experience from the 2020 Championship year but have been in limbo since Vogel’s dismissal.

2. Describe a philosophy that dictates staff movements

Ham was part of a handful of different teams that had different structures and schemes. In Atlanta, he was on hand for a 60-win Hawks team that was largely devoid of star power but succeeded through selfless ploy. In Milwaukee, he is credited with helping implement the system that saw Giannis Antetokounmpo win back-to-back MVP trophies and the 2021 championship. Where do the Lakers fall on that particular spectrum?

While LeBron James will always facilitate certain styles of play, Ham will help fill in the gaps that dictate what kind of support staff to get: How do guards defend? What is the bounty for getting shooters vs getting cutters? Will the Lakers play with a traditional center, 5-way spacing, or will it come down to Anthony Davis? The front office holds the bottom line for roster building, but Ham’s vision will help inform the type of players they are looking for – and after last season’s failure it is assumed a priority absolute will be to have players who match their coach. diets.

3. Hold superstars accountable

James wasted no time giving public approval to Ham, who he played against early in his career when the manager wore a shirt. Clearly there’s excitement in finding a candidate James believes in – does that translate into James listening and compromising with his coach in games?

One of the biggest traits the Lakers see in Ham is his toughness and his ability to hold even the biggest names to account. It went very well in Milwaukee, where Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday don’t seem to have any ego-related disputes with their coaches (Antetokounmpo was another big supporter of Ham’s head coaching bid) . But Ham must find ways to use that respect to get the most out of their stars.

For example: James rarely played defense at the level he consistently brought during the 2019-20 regular season, when he was hungry and felt he had something to prove after missing the playoffs playoffs. Davis can be pushed back at this level too, both by imposing more physicality as a big man and being more assertive to reach the rim on offense. It’s reasonable to expect both to be self-motivated, but Ham and his team need to direct that motivation to get the best out of both players.

4. And what about Russell Westbrook?

Due to the uncertainty surrounding Westbrook’s future with the franchise, he gets his own spot on the roster. If the Lakers manage to process Westbrook and his $47.1 million option for next season before October, then that’s not Ham’s problem. But given that Westbrook is so difficult to trade and The Athletic reported that Westbrook’s role was a talking point in practice interviews, it’s more than conceivable that the Lakers could have him on the squad at some point. autumn.

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