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Lakers: Darvin Ham wants to challenge Russell Westbrook

According to the new Lakers coach Darvin Ham, the team must above all regain defensive solidity. This is what made the group assembled by Frank Vogel strong during his first two seasons, with the 3rd and then the 1st NBA defense in 2019/20 and 2020/21, before the arrival of Russell Westbrook.

The point guard’s experience completely failed in his first year alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If the point guard exercises the $ 47 million player option to stay in Los Angeles, it is nearly impossible to transfer him, and the Lakers are therefore preparing to try to bounce back with him. The new coach is well aware of this and has decided to challenge the point guard to be at the center of his game plan.

“With the style of play we’re going to have, all of these guys – not just Russ but also LeBron, AD – will be able to share the defensive load. And one thing I mentioned to Russ is how the success I’ve experienced was built – especially in the last nine years and four seasons with Coach Bud in Milwaukee, also Atlanta, but especially Milwaukee. What we have always preached and will continue to preach to be the foundation of our teams is the defensive mentality and the ability to defend at a high level. “

In 2021-22 with the addition of the point guard and the release of some defensive specialists (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso …) this sector of the game thus collapsed to 21st place in the championship. Russell Westbrook will therefore have to seriously raise his personal and group tone. Ham explains:

“I challenged him (in defense) and he accepted that challenge. It is part of the word “sacrifice” that I use. How to use it in different areas of the field in attack. Sometimes he will have to move without the ball. Sometimes he will have to wait on the baseline (on the “dunk point”). Sometimes it will be at the creation of the game how to bring the block on the pick’n’roll.

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And in attack (22nd in this last season) it will have to be avoided that it remains so predictable: “Being able to diversify his attack plan, so that he doesn’t just push the ball onto the field against three defenders every time. He shouldn’t have to go to the phone booth to put on the cape (like Clark Kent becoming Superman). Everyone has to be involved in what we do, on both sides of the pitch, and that will make things easier, lighten the burden for everyone and allow us to get stronger as the season progresses. “

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