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Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has earned a lot of goodwill from the organization because of his performance in the postseason.
According to Dan Woike of Los Angeles TimesHam left people “in and around” the Lakers “impressed” with the work he did to get this team to the Western Conference Finals.
“We’ve got a good one,” said a Lakers player to Woike after Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets.
Ham was given a difficult task when he was hired in June 2022 to replace Frank Vogel as the Lakers’ head coach. The 49-year-old entered the season trying to navigate with Russell Westbrook having an uncertain role and LeBron James openly talking about the lack of shooting on the roster.
While no one called for Ham’s firing when the team got off to a 2-10 start, the situation was such a mess that it wouldn’t have been a surprise if he ended up one-and-done.
They did this despite completely overhauling their roster around James and Anthony Davis before the trade deadline. James and Davis combined to miss 53 games due to injury, which only made it harder on Ham.
However, the Lakers turned a corner after that by posting a 42-29 record in the last 71 games. They got the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in tournament.
Los Angeles continued its positive momentum by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the Golden State Warriors in the second round. The team finally ran out of gas against the Nuggets in the conference finals, but this season should be considered an unqualified success for Ham based on where this squad is headed.
Being a first-time head coach made what Ham did with the Lakers even more impressive. He has extensive coaching experience during 14 seasons as an assistant, including winning an NBA title as part of Mike Budenholzer’s 2020-21 Milwaukee Bucks staff.
But stepping into the main chair as a head coach, especially in a situation full of pressure with the Lakers, is a different task. He handles things very well and has the team in a good position to be competitive going forward.