"Communicate and collaborate, but also demonstrate," Darvin Ham, the Los Angeles Lakers' 28th franchise head coach, said.
The new Lakers head coach set the tone in his first meeting with the media, declaring that he's ready to lay out a competitive culture and collaborative foundation for the Purple and Gold. On Monday, Ham talked about how he plans to approach and coach the Lakers next season as the team looks to redeem itself after a disastrous year.
Here are 5 takeaways from Ham's first press conference as a head coach
Toughness and tenacity
Ham wants to instill a culture of toughness and togetherness for the Lakers. He said that it starts by him setting an example for his team. He also feels no pressure with his new job, which many dubbed as the hardest (or even worst) position to be in. For Ham, the pressure of this Lakers head coaching job is nothing compared to what he's gone through in his life.
"I was shot in the face by accident April 5th 1988, you go through something like that it's going to do one of two things. It's going to make you fearful or fearless. It made me fearless. I don't feel no pressure," Ham said.
The coach also said that he would emphasize tenacity and togetherness during training and film sessions, which he plans to conduct often. Ham is a firm believer in preparation, accountability, and the importance of grinding for your goals.
"We're going to get better every day and the things we do in that daily process will lead to the kind of success this city and franchise is accustomed to," Ham said. "The sky is the limit. We're not putting a ceiling on our situation. We'll go as far as our preparation takes us," Ham added.
360-degree coaching style
Ham plans to modernize the Lakers' offense by incorporating a 4 out 1 in motion scheme (the same offense that the Bucks have used over the past couple of years) that would best utilize the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. He said that the team would first set the tone on the defensive end, which he plans to let Davis anchor.
"It's a 360-degree coaching style. Both parts of the floor are connected. You hear about offensive or defensive gurus. You have to be well-rounded. You have to watch the whole game," said Ham. "Defensively is where you're going to see us make our biggest leaps and bounce. We have to commit to the defensive side of the ball. The offense won't even matter if we don't get stop."
Speaking of Davis, Ham has already called out the superstar by setting expectations for him. The coach wants Davis to produce more consistently, stay healthy throughout the season, and go back to being one of the best players in the league — something he failed to do for the past two seasons now.
"His skill set, his size, his defensive acumen, his relentlessness defensively is key. It's going to be the foundation to the type of standard we set. We need consistency out of Anthony Davis. We need him to be healthy, playing championship-level basketball," Ham said.
How Ham plans to approach LeBron James
Ham mentioned that as soon as he talked to James when he was hired by the Lakers, the coach was so excited that he wanted to start training camp right away. Ham knows that he's about to coach a 37-year-old superstar who's still playing at a high level, so his goal is to lessen his minutes on the court.
James averaged 37.2 minutes a game last season in 56 games, which isn't ideal. Ham emphasized role player contribution as a solution to lessen James' workload.
"My number one goal is to try and lessen the wear and tear on LeBron," Ham said. "We have our stars, Bron, AD, Russ, but it's those Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, the more they keep getting better, the more fulfilling it is," Ham said.
Ham is a firm believer in Russell Westbrook
When Ham was asked about how he plans to handle Westbrook, the coach said he would implement a schematic offense that would benefit the former MVP. Ham believes that he sees Westbrook will remain a Laker, and the coach mentioned that he expects Westbrook to sacrifice and play better defense next season.
"Just our running habits. Don't get it mess up, Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen and there's still a ton left in that tank. I don't know why people are trying to write him off. I'm going to approach him like I do every player I've encountered. We're going to talk about our running habits with the ball or without the ball and again, the rhythm of the team. Try to establish a rhythm with LeBron, Russ and AD and again, share the load defensively and offensively," Ham stated.
Ham wants young bright minded assistants.
Hours before Ham's press conference, The Atheltic's Shams Charania reported former NBA player Rasheed Wallace plans to join his coaching staff. After a few minutes, Charania backpedaled and said that there had been no formal agreement between both sides.
When Ham was asked about the possibility of recruiting Wallace to his staff, he said that rumors were false, but Wallace was a candidate he would consider. Aside from Wallace, Ham also emphasized that he's looking at many talented young assistants to join him.
"I like coaches that's going to roll up their sleeves and get out there. Where I come from the last nine years, we did everything. We did player development, we did scouting. I had to step in as a head coach on a few occasions. It was a team, with no coordinators on either side of the ball. We all pitched in on aspects of our team basketball, offensively and defensively. So, I'm looking to build a similar type of staff," Ham concluded.