Darvin Ham, the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, was introduced on Monday and Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook showed his support for the new hire.
And Ham returned the compliment.
“Don’t get it messed up: Russell Westbrook is one of the best players our league has ever seen, and there’s still a ton left in the tank,” said Ham in reference to Westbrook’s questionable first season with Los Angeles. “I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off.”
The former league MVP was traded to the Lakers from the Washington Wizards during the 2021 NBA Draft as the 2021-22 season posed as one of the worst seasons in Lakers franchise history. They finished No. 11 in the Western Conference, holding a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs altogether.
Not to mention, Westbrook had one of his worst seasons. He averaged 34.3 minutes per game with a 27.2% usage rate, which is low compared to the rest of his career. And though he averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game, which seems like a decent portfolio, Fansided deemed it the seventh worst season of anyone in the NBA, based on usage rate and filtration of Box Plus/Minus.
Nonetheless, Ham seems to remain optimistic. In fact, he has quite the confidence in the 33-year-old guard.
“Russ and I had some really, really great one-on-one convos, man, and the biggest word I think came out of that, those discussions, was ‘sacrifice,” said Ham. “I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career.”
And like Ham has Westbrook’s back, Lakers' Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka has Ham’s back.
“This is an incredibly bright and promising day in Laker history,” said Pelinka. “I’m just incredibly proud to be able to sit next to him, for what he stands for, as a man, as a coach, as a dad and a husband.”
The Los Angeles Lakers hired Ham as the new head coach of the franchise on May 27. The 48-year-old Ham is the 28th coach in the team’s existence, first appearing with the Lakers as an assistant on Mike Brown’s staff during the 2012-3 season.