Darvin Ham’s New Look Lineups Have Lakers Poised For Championship Run!
Everything’s suddenly coming up roses for the Lakers as the first preview of head coach Darvin Ham’s new look starting lineup and rotation powered Los Angeles to a dominating 120–102 coast-to-coast win over New Orleans.
Two days after proclaiming Schröder and Russell as his starting backcourt, Darvin Ham reversed course and unveiled a new innovative starting lineup for Wednesday night’s game that could change everything for the Lakers.
Darvin Ham’s surprising new Lakers’ starting lineup has D’Angelo Russell at point guard, Malik Beasley at shooting guard, Jarred Vanderbilt at small forward, LeBron James at power forward, and Anthony Davis at center.
The new lineup addresses the Lakers’ two greatest needs: a pair of volume 3-point shooting guards with gravity to create spacing and a bigger wing defender who can guard opposing team’s leading scorer at all three levels.
Russell, Beasley, and Vanderbilt played together on the Timberwolves, which made their first integration with James and Davis smoother and easier as the Lakers suddenly looked like a potential playoff juggernaut.
Right now, the 27–32 Lakers have 23 games remaining on their regular season schedule, that restarts next Thursday against the Warriors. The Lakers need to win almost every single game to make the playoffs.
To finish 10th and make the play-in, they need to win 14 of 23 for a 41–41 record. To finish 8th, they need to win 16 of 23 for a 43–39 record. To finish 6th and make the playoffs, they need to win 18 of 23 for a 45–37 record.
After watching their new lineups, the Lakers’ long-shot path to the playoffs suddenly looks more like a slam dunk. Barring injury, the Lakers are about to become the nightmare team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
The Lakers were a doomed team last week, their front office questioning whether to even make a move to save the season. That now appears to have been all posturing as Rob Pelinka and the Lakers won the trade deadline.
Ham’s new lineups now have the Lakers looking at bigger targets than just making the play-in tourney or the playoffs. The Lakers believe their new lineups and rotation have them potentially poised for a championship run.
Rob Pelinka Finally Shows His Royal Flush
Sometimes, the best opportunities to redefine who you are, reestablish an identity, or create a new vision for the future happen after a team has made a horrendous mistake that threatens the viability of the franchise.
That’s exactly what happened with the Los Angeles Lakers this season. After struggling to figure out how to get out of the hole in which the Westbrook trade had left them, Rob Pelinka found a vision to embrace.
Westbrook caused the Lakers to rethink everything. Three superstars vs. two superstars? Cap space vs. tradable contracts? Win now vs. build for the future? The value of draft picks. How to make a third superstar work?
As the trade deadline approached, Pelinka knew the Lakers needed more than tweaks not only to give the team a shot at making the playoffs and winning #18 but also to position them to be a major player this summer.
Pelinka knew the Lakers needed an extreme makeover and set a goal to swap six players, all but one on expiring contracts, and one protected first round pick for three new starters and three new primary backups.
But before Pelinka could execute his bold trade deadline plan to rebuild the Lakers, Kyrie Irving turned the NBA world on its head by demanding a trade from the Nets with the L.A. Lakers as his preferred destination.
This was the ultimate test for Pelinka. Could a last minute trade for a third superstar once again derail Lakers’ plans to build a deep, diverse roster? This time Rob resisted the Nets’ crazy demands and returned back to plan.
The trades Pelinka had lined up had already produced Hachimura, Russell, Beasley, and Vanderbilt when Rob reportedly gave up trying to trade Beverley and Walker for Bogdanovic and instead traded for Mo Bamba.
Rob solved the Lakers’ need for size, shooting, and defense with six bigger, younger, better players, including two new starting guards and one starting defensive wing plus a backup shooting guard, forward, and rim protector.
By keeping one of the picks, trading for younger players with more upside, and negotiating strong top-4 protection on the pick that traded to Utah, Pelinka was able to protect and actually enhance the Lakers’ future.
Should the Lakers make the playoffs and be fortunate enough to win their 18th NBA Championship, those observers, including myself, who thought the Lakers were the biggest trade deadline winner will be vindicated.
Bottom line, while trying to find a way out of the Westbrook disaster, Rob Pelinka’s ended up finding an innovative vision he could embrace for a new and different Lakers’ team that’s built to win both today and tomorrow.
Darvin Ham Embraces New Look Lakers Lineups
After being mercilessly trolled for his earlier starting lineups and rotations, Darvin Ham is now receiving universal praise for the new look Lakers’ lineups that he previewed against the Pelican last Wednesday night.
There’s been no behind-the-scenes reporting on how and why Darvin Ham suddenly changed his mind two days after declaring Dennis Schröder and D’Angelo Russell would be his starting backcourt for the foreseeable future.
Whether it was his own decision or whether he was following counsel from Rob Pelinka or others, Ham clearly made the right decision and the Lakers’ performance Wednesday night clearly validated his new look lineups.
The decision by Rob Pelinka and the front office to completely rebuild the Lakers’ starting lineup and rotation with just 23 games left was a complete surprise considering the franchise’s inaction the past two trade deadlines.
It was also a strong vote of confidence in rookie head coach Darvin Ham, who had been specifically included in the trade deadline strategy meetings and was closely involved as the Lakers’ final trade deadline plans evolved.
While I’ve been a strong Darvin Ham supporter, I’ve also been highly critical of his lineups, rotations, and substitutions. What drives me crazy about Darvin is he won’t set rules to help manage his lineups and rotations.
The Lakers have two superstars, two point guards, two rim protectors. Every single Lakers lineup that sets foot on the court should have one superstar, one point guard, and one rim protector as part of its fivesome.
There’s no question some of those earlier lineups were probably the best Ham could do with what Pelinka had given him. Fortunately, the new look roster is deeper, bigger, and more diverse than Darvin’s earlier roster.
The key will be can the new look Lakers lineups defend. Based on last Wednesday’s preview, the signs are promising. The Lakers starting lineup has two defenders who can defend all five positions at all three levels.
The Lakers took a huge risk in hiring a rookie head coach like Darvin Ham but he’s held up well in face of serious challenges in getting Westbrook to accept coming off the bench and dealing with James’ and Davis’ injuries.
Now Darvin will get a chance to coach with a roster that’s deep and diverse and a perfect fit for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And with his new look lineups, Ham’s ready to go with the right players in the right positions.
With 23 games left in the season, this Laker are now firmly in the hands of rookie head coach Darvin Ham, who’s finally going to have a chance to coach the quality of team we expected to when he was hired by the Lakers.
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