Reasons Why Darvin Ham can make the difference for the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are convinced that a new coaching change brings new opportunities after Darvin Ham was hired to replace Frank Vogel after the 2021-22 season.


Ham may not be a popular choice among Lakers fans, but the former Detroit Piston brings a defense-first approach that could work wonders and bring Los Angeles back to another deep playoff run.

 

Let’s break down what circumstances Ham needs to address and get through amid another colorful free agency and what his coaching approach should change the Lakers’ fortunes in the hopes of landing another championship.

 

HAM NO STRANGER TO PLAYING WITH STARS

Ham may have been a role player when he was part of a Pistons team that won the 2004 championship over the Lakers.

 

But the new coach knows what it takes to handle stars after he played with several of them in his career.

 

The Lakers, actually, are no stranger to Ham, who was an assistant coach under Mike Brown in 2011 where he coached Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, among others.

 

Ham has also experienced winning as part of a coaching staff after winning an NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 as part of head coach Mike Buldenhozer’s assistants.

 

WESTBROOK FUTURE CLOUDS HAM STINT

The current generation of the Lakers’ “Big Three” is composed of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook but it’s business as usual for Ham despite the uncertainty regarding Westbrook’s future.

 

While many signs lead to Westbrook getting traded, Ham is committed to make things work if his All-Star guard will stay in Los Angeles.

 

Ham insists that he has a “game plan on how to use him (Westbrook)” but whether the Lakers’ management listens to him is another story.

 

INJURY-FREE SEASONS FROM LEBRON, DAVIS CRUCIAL

For all of his defensive-focused schemes he wants to instill in Los Angeles, Ham will still need a full deck of players if he leads the Lakers back to the playoffs, at least.

 

This means Ham needs to have an almost injury-free regular season from James, Davis, and Westbrook (if he stays) for the Lakers to remove the “lottery team” image and make a deep playoff run this time.

 

Among the three, Ham cites the health of Davis as the “biggest factor” for LA. Davis was limited to just 36 games in the 2020-21 season and 40 games last season.

FILLING UP THE KEY PIECES ALSO NECESSARY

Should he keep the Lakers “Big Three” of James, Davis and Westbrook, Ham will still need to land a decent supporting cast to keep the Lakers cohesive in the regular season.

 

The signing of center Damian Jones on a two-year deal is just a start of changes under Ham’s tenure with the Lakers.

 

Ham is also high on Thomas Bryant after he was signed as a free agent. Lakers great Magic Johnson described Bryant as someone “who can shoot the three” and complement James and Davis on the court.

 

Only time can tell if the Lakers gain progress under a new coach this season.

 

But the signs call for Ham to make a difference in the Lakers’ culture, something LeBron, AD, and even Westbrook should buy in if they seek to help the team back to an elite level.

How teams define success in NBA Free Agency?

There are two ways for teams to rebuild a roster from getting off multiple losing seasons in the NBA to establishing a winning culture that often leads to several championships: Free agency or draft.

 

While the traditional way to build a solid core of players is through the Rookie Draft, there are teams that go for the biggest names in the free agency market which leads to a championship ring.

 

Learn how general managers and team owners determine if success is reached with their free agency haul, whether it leads to a title or just an upgrade from a lottery team to a playoff contender.

 

‘WIN NOW’ TEAMS GO FOR STAR FREE AGENTS

 

You can blame it on the “super team” concept the Boston Celtics took in 2008 that led them to a championship. 

 

But teams that are impatient about nurturing talent from the draft and want to “win now” got the confidence after the Celtics made it work with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Pierce to lease Boston past Los Angeles for all the marbles.

 

The Miami Heat may not have done it the first time with LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Wade but they did win two-straight titles in 2012 and 2013, one better than the Celtics.

 

BIG CITY TEAMS USUALLY GO FOR QUICK FIX

 

Big market teams can’t be blamed for plucking the big names in free agency, surrounding them with undrafted role players, and, with a stroke of luck and great coaching, getting the job done.

 

The New York Knicks may have salary cap space on some seasons to land superstar free agents to stay as a playoff team. But after their time plucking Carmelo Anthony away from Denver that failed to not net a title, it’s been mostly downhill even despite the bright lights of broadway.

 

Los Angeles did get one title when James finally landed in Hollywood. But teams can’t cheat on injuries and bad luck that got the Lakers tumbling into the lottery after the 2021-22 season.

 

STARS ON LOSING TEAMS MAKE FREE AGENCY BRIGHTER

 

It’s not just the Lakers, Knicks, and even the Chicago Bulls that often want a “win now” approach that leads them to the free agency route.

 

The increasing number of superstars from bad teams testing the waters often gets the attention of the big market teams. And that’s how the “super team” concept started.

 

Kevin Love was a regular All-Star with consistent yet impressive numbers with the Minnesota Timberwolves but he never got a chance to experience a deep playoff run. A season with James and Kyrie Irving with the Cleveland Cavaliers changed all that when they won the 2016 title.

 

FREE AGENCY ROUTE ALWAYS CARRIES RISKS

 

A team’s tradition, or culture, defines what directions their executives take in getting their franchises better.

 

There’s no guarantee for teams collecting the best names in free agency and suddenly becoming NBA champions. Developing young players through the Draft is also not 100% effective, either.

 

Free agency and the Draft both have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s all up to the team owners, the general managers, and executives that comprise a team’s brain trust as to what direction they want to go for their franchise.

 

Any direction and decision take risks. But with great timing, scouting, coaching, and getting the right chemistry for a team’s core, success for franchises might not be a championship right away. 


Executives from a perennial lottery team can define success in free agency as getting out of those losing seasons and making the playoffs consistently. 

 

A franchise’s conviction in sticking to its culture or its basketball program, as well as producing impressive player chemistry from the superstars up to the role players is already a success to a certain point – whether they go to free agency or the Draft.

Top 10 ‘Impact’ Rookies for 2023 NBA Season

It’s Summer League season in the NBA at this time of the year. The top players who just got picked in the 2022 Draft are aching to show their wares to ensure quality playing time for them when the regular season unfolds in October.



Players who were chosen among the top ten in the first round of the Draft often get most of the attention.


But look out for those “sleepers” who might be picked late in the first round or in the second round but some of them might just be in our top 10 “impact” list of newcomers.



Let’s pick out the best freshmen from the recent Draft who we believe will make an immediate impact on the teams that picked them for the 2022-23 NBA season.



SMITH, BANCHERO, AND IVEY TOUTED AS NBA READY ROOKIES



Consensus top pick Jabari Smith Jr may not have been picked as No.1, but his stock remains solid after he was taken in at No.3 three by the Houston Rockets.



The Rockets might not still reach the playoffs next season. But expect Smith to help Houston win a couple more games compared to last season as he teams up with Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun to become the future cornerstones of the franchise.



Paolo Banchero, who denied Smith from being the best of their class after the Orlando Magic took him as the top overall pick, comes at No.2 in this list due to his package of scoring and defense with his length.



The Detroit Pistons may have their cornerstone in Cade Cunningham, but the arrival of their top pick Jaden Ivey fulfills a need for a solid backcourt.


Ivey’s impressive jab step and playmaking would complement Cunningham’s strengths as the Pistons resume their rebuild to become a playoff team again.



HOLMGREN, MURRAY, AND WILLIAMS GOT NEXT



The Oklahoma City Thunder, like the Pistons, also need another piece to backstop rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.



Chet Holmgren did stick to projections as the Thunder’s No.2 pick, and fourth in this “impact” list. 



The seven-footer did not disappoint this early, as Holmgren put up 23 points along with seven rebounds, four assists, and a Summer League record of making five blocks and four three-pointers to help OKC beat the Utah Jazz, 98-77, on Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.



Keegan Murray comes next at No.5, and the 6-foot-8 forward also shone with 26 points and eight rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting to help the Sacramento Kings defeat the Golden State Warriors, 86-68, in the California Classic summer league tournament on Saturday night.


Mark Williams is a mid-first-round pick who’s No.6 on the list. The 7-foot-2 Duke center brings excitement to Hornets fans, as he teams up with LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, and Miles Bridges in a solid core that can just steer the franchise to the playoffs.



DANIELS, DUREN READY TO SHINE



The New Orleans Pelicans may have found something special when they took in Dyson Daniels at No.8. 



The 6-foot-8 forward, who averaged 12 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and two steals per game for the G League Ignite last year, will be a valuable key player off the bench as Zion Williamson makes his return from injury.


Jalen Duren became the No.13 pick overall by the Charlotte Hornets before he was traded to the Pistons to form a young triumvirate with Cunningham and Ivey.



Duren averaged 12 points, 8/1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in his lone season at Memphis to help the Tigers reach the NCAA tournament in 2014 and into the round of 32.


SHARPE, DAVIS ROUND OUT TOP 10


Canadian forward/guard Shaedon Sharpe landed as the No.7 overall pick and ninth in the ‘impact” list, and the 19 year-old is more than capable of making a statement as a pro.



The 19-year-old five-star recruit will have his chance to shine with the Portland Trail Blazers, as he tries to complement franchise player Damian Lillard and help the team contend to at least a return in the playoffs.



Johnny Davis is the 10th overall pick by the Washington Wizards, and it is timely that he also rounds out our top 10 “impact list for rookies.


The 6-foot-4 guard may be a stretch to say that he can be a replacement if top scorer Bradley Beal decides to go elsewhere soon. But the upside is there for the La Crosse, Wisconsin, native to contribute right away in his rookie NBA season.