New Lakers coach Darvin Ham sets defensive tone to begin training camp https://t.co/EAcK6roJXn
— LakerTom (@LakerTom) September 29, 2022
The film room might seem an odd place to start the first day of practice, especially considering Darvin Ham had very little film to show.
Since he was hired months ago, Ham has preached tough-minded defense – something the Lakers didn’t play much last season. And though he is proud of his last coaching stop, “I wasn’t going to dare show any Milwaukee Bucks clips,” he chuckled. “I’m a Laker – a Laker through and through.”
Ham’s first day of training camp in his first head coaching role consisted of slides (made with video coordinator Dru Anthrop) with some of the less flattering defensive figures from last season, paired with some of the corresponding principles Ham hopes to instill. Then the Lakers got to work on the court, chiefly working on defensive drills. In one, called “Cutthroat,” all points are scored on defense – hammering home the idea that the Lakers aim to be a defense-first squad this year.
“Just planting the seed, watering the plant,” Ham said, “and hopefully, it comes to fruition in a major, major way.”
Ham and the Lakers have their work cut out for them. Last season after boasting top-3 defenses in each of former coach Frank Vogel’s first two seasons, the Lakers finished 21st in defensive rating (112.8), and their inability to get timely stops was one of the most glaring issues among their many faults. Ham’s expectation – and maybe hubris – is that the Lakers can get that turned around in a hurry and become one of the “elite” defenses in the NBA.
The roster turnover should help: The Lakers went from being one of the oldest teams in the league to now having eight players 27 or younger. Among their veterans are the feisty Patrick Beverley and pesky Dennis Schröder, who should help a group that was overwhelmed on the perimeter last season. But more than anything, it will require buy-in from the players expected to play the most minutes: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
According to Ham, things got off to a good start on that front.
“Russ was great. A.D. was great. Bron was great,” he said. “You could see the younger guys just follow suit. It was good, man … the practice was popping.”
While Ham was more noncommittal on media day about Westbrook’s grasp on a starting guard spot, he acknowledged Westbrook was “front and center” during many of the days’ drills. Ham has publicly emphasized that Westbrook’s role is dependent on his willingness to play aggressive defense (at UCLA, he was the Pac-10 Defender of the Year in 2008), and on day one, the star guard seemed willing to buy into the role.
The post Lakers coach Darvin Ham sets defensive tone to begin training camp appeared first on Lakerholics.