New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has many plans for his new team, including bringing mental toughness and finding a role for star Russell Westbrook who struggled last season.
Besides dealing with injuries, the Lakers found themselves not being able to close out games, which was a huge factor as to why they didn’t make the playoffs this year.
JTA says Darvin Ham has emphasized to him now the Lakers are going to play defense and get after it
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“It’s really not pressure,” The 48-year-old said in an interview with Andscape. “I’ve been through so much s— in my life. When people say pressure, come on, fam. Pressure is like the boogeyman is only real in your mind. The boogeyman doesn’t exist to me. I’ve literally almost been killed before, bro. So, I understand what the challenge is. I don’t want to say expectations. It’s the order of things. I understand what the order of things are with this franchise, and I embrace it, accept it 1,000% because I’m built like that.”
For Ham, it’s trying to fit the pieces together for this team to work and one of those pieces is Westbrook, whom he says was counted out way too early. The coach thinks he can get Westbrook on track.
“Counted out prematurely. Counted out. Prematurely,” said Ham. “I’ve had some great interactions with Russ, in person, over dinner, over the phone, over text messages. I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach. Just to see him, a guy of that magnitude and everything he’s done in the league to get hated on. But being me, I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy. We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it.”
As far as whether or not Westbrook will be a starter next season, Ham has no doubt.
“Yes, indeed,” said Ham, when asked if Russell will start. “It’s just the way we’re going to play and the type of people that’s going to be out there on the floor, that’s the biggest thing.”