We're told to "HAVE A TAKE" when writing a headline but you tell me. I don't know what to make of this whole thing. It's kinda freaking me out.
Is this the beginning of a Russell Westbrook renaissance? Is ex-NBA player and new Lakers coach Darvin Ham savoring every moment of every win because he knows he has one of the shittiest teams in the NBA? Am I actually getting sold on Ham squeezing Westbrook's galactic ego, relegating him to the bench and everything somehow not blowing up in everyone's face?
In a general manner of speaking, it's way too early in the NBA season to jump to any grand conclusions. But I felt more confident last week declaring the New Orleans Pelicans a legitimate championship contender IN THEIR THIRD GAME of 82 than I do about anything going on with Russell Westbrook.
I'm glad to see a head coach not be afraid to express his feelings. Don't hold that shit in, bro. Ain't healthy. It feels like a common theme with successful coaches is that authenticity resonates with the players. Ham is going HAM in that regard. Whether it means jack shit or miraculously gets the Lakers to the play-in tournament is another matter.
If you take at face value how worked up Ham is, how much of a general aberration it is to see Westbrook actually have an efficient shooting night (18 points on 6-for-12), and how wild everyone was going in the locker room afterwards...
Yeah, pretty easy to point and laugh at the Lakers if you'd like. LeBron is in Year 20 and it feels like the scoring title takes precedence over anything else. A real shot at a title seems like a pipe dream. Doesn't help that LA's second-best player, Anthony Davis, is basically made of glass and is having back problems out of the gates already. If AD has proven anything, it's that he's unreliable.
I know PatPev isn't worried. I know LeBron is LeBron. Ham seems like he might be a decent coach. But uhh...counting on consistency from Westbrook and pristine health from Davis to even come close reaching your ceiling as a team? Yikes.
Final verdict: I am moved by Ham's words. I am always in Russ' corner because he's super authentic, plays a zillion miles per hour and is one of the funniest athletes of his era both in his dealings with the media and his chaotic playing style. It's dope that Russ is seemingly buying in. Maybe it will have a trickle-down effect to the Lakers' other role players and help them thrive beyond anyone's current expectations. Not holding my breath, though.