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Everything looked rosy Tuesday in Los Angeles at the Lakers team facility. Russell Westbrook make it nice With Patrick Beverly. Coach Darvin Hamm expressed his happiness with what the season is about to come. In his words, “I have the best seat in the house.”
But if the Los Angeles Lakers continue to keep Russell Westbrook, can they really recover solidly from last year’s 33-game losing streak?
Was the worry unnecessary? These will Ice cold shoulders In the summer league between LeBron James and Westbrook melts in a training camp under the warmth of the new coach?
Hamm – who by all accounts has been a deserving head coach for nearly half a decade – naturally talks about his players after three weeks of training camp. If the Lakers decide to go in a different direction with Westbrook, Hamm will pivot.
As of now, rival executives aren’t sure the Lakers will send one future first-round team, let alone two, out of Westbrook’s contract unless a return package dramatically improves the team. So what is the plan?
“It starts with the defensive end,” Hamm said. “We have three players in the first polling hall and other guys around them who can score. Offensive, we just need organization and discipline in how we do the space and how we run and where we give those players the ball.”
Frank Vogel received a similar message to the coach last year but struggled to find a healthy group of players who could score and earn stopping points. He never found that perfect spin, as injuries to Anthony Davis and James hindered him.
To help Hamm implement his vision, the front office gave him more youthful, athletic role players. The team is deeper but the shooting is still a concern. Getting over 56 and 40 games in a row from James and Davis would go a very long way.
In short, there are more questions than answers for Hamm and Los Angeles, despite the positive shots we heard on Tuesday. So Bleacher Report polled seven NBA sources for a reality check, and most of them were generally pessimistic.
They need a time machine
Assuming the Lakers remain healthy, can Hamm coach this team in the playoffs?
Of the seven NBA sources polled (including executives and agents), only one is confident about the Lakers’ postseason prospects. Two are not confident but ultimately believe they will make it to the fifth and eighth seed. Three see the best case as 9-10, with Los Angeles needing only two in-game wins to make the playoffs. The latter is not expected to lead the franchise to play.
“The West has eight playoff caliber teams, leaving two places to play for the Lakers, [Sacramento] Kings and Portland [Trail Blazers]One agent said, assuming the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs are tied to the lottery.
What is the most important need for the Lakers to become more substantial hope in the playoffs? The answers were uniform.
Another said “they need to add shooting and defense too,” almost everyone echoing those sentiments.
Is there one step a team can take to become a competitor? One answer popped up.
“They need a time machine,” one replied sarcastically, noting that rewinding to avoid doing the Westbrook deal altogether was the only solution.
Hamm appears to think Westbrook will be a net positive for the Lakers, but he also thinks Westbrook was short on defense last season. The nine-time All-Star needs to make strides this season.
“If they’re not trading with Westbrook, it’s time to stop playing with his feelings,” one source explained. “If he has to come off the bench or not play at all, do what’s best for the team. If his playing doesn’t produce positive contributions, look at other options.”
The idea of the Westbrook trade has been a popular topic, whether it’s Utah Jazz role players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley or a pack of Indiana Pacers built around Myles Turner.
[Lakers] Need depth and turn Ross into multiple pieces who can play without the ball and space on the ground,” one source said, stressing that almost any NBA system requires at least an adequate shooting baseline unless the team is an absolute defensive monster. The Lakers are not the last, on paper on paper. the least.
Is it worth giving up one or two first-round picks to get role players for Westbrook?
“That’s up [team governor] “Jenny Boss and Front Office” replied one customer.
Re Anxiety: Davis, Beverly
The same source raised concerns about Davis. “He was more inconsistent than consistent, out of his bubble game.”
Davis fired just 18.6 percent of his three-point range last year and 26.0 percent in 2020-2021. Westbrook achieved 29.8 percent in his only season with the Lakers.
“Individually, they’re three elite talents, but how exactly can Hamm top the ground around LeBron with two non-shooters in huge roles?” asked another executive.
While Beverley’s possession was generally praised, one noted that he is an “injury prone player”.
“Beverly only plays 50 games a season,” one agent said. The goalkeeper averaged 48.7 over the past three years.
Hamm doesn’t go in perfect, but few novice coaches inherit a championship-level roster. Perhaps Hamm can find groups that shoot and defend well enough to give the team a chance.
One source was optimistic: “They have LeBron and AD. If they’re healthy, the Lakers are still dangerous.”
If the shot matches the numbers on the paper, the Lakers will need to compensate by playing an elite-level defense this season. None of those surveyed expect L.A. to be close to any top defensive team.
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