LA Lakers insider reports Darvin Ham was repeatedly asked to deploy 2023 playoffs starting lineup

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks
LA Lakers insider reports Darvin Ham was repeatedly asked to deploy 2023 playoffs starting lineup

The LA Lakers have been sensational since Rui Hachimura moved into the starting lineup on Feb. 3. The Lakers are tied for the fourth-best record since then, going 20-9, boasting a 118.3 offensive rating and a serviceable 114.6 defensive rating. Darvin Ham's decision to turn this lineup has worked wonders but the delayed timing has drawn plenty of criticism for the Lakers' sophomore coach.

Ham switched to this proven winning combination after 50 games, with the Lakers going 25-25 in that span. With LA struggling to move out of the ninth spot with a 45-34 record, 1.5 games behind the sixth seed and seventh seed, and 0.5 games behind the eighth seed, questions are being raised over Ham's questionable choices for the better part of the season.

"According to sources close to the situation speaking on the condition of anonymity, all year, players, coaches and Lakers staffers alike had been wondering when Ham would finally move on from all the experimenting and focus on the core that went on that miraculous run last season," Irwin wrote.

When asked about his lineup choices a few weeks ago, Darvin Ham vehemently blamed injuries and lack of form for sticking with Taurean Prince over Rui Hachimura. After the explosive rant, one source close to the situation hinted Ham was repeatedly asked to make the lineup change after things didn't work out.

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"We’ve all been asking to give those guys a look all season," the source said as per Irwin's report."

The core group that guided the LA Lakers to a Western Conference lineup included D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Jarred Vanderbilt, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Rui Hachimura, who came off the bench. Vanderbilt has been on the sidelines since the lineup switch, which prompted Hachimura's inclusion.

While that saw LA's defense regress significantly, the offense clicked and is top three behind the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers since Feb. 3.

LA Lakers players not surprised about results with WCF run starting lineup

The LA Lakers went from a 13th seed to seventh last season. They entered the playoffs with bleak expectations of making a deep run after an up-and-down year. However, they reached the conference finals against all odds. The key architects of that turnaround were midseason additions D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Rui Hachimura.

The three pieces fit nearly perfectly next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, which saw them display impeccable chemistry despite the lack of playing time on the floor together. The core reportedly knew what they could produce when on the court as a unit and the team's 20-9 run since Feb. 3 doesn't 'surprise' them.

Here's what LA Lakers' insider Anthony Irwin reported:

“Those guys have incredible confidence in one another,” one Lakers source said. “They knew exactly how to play together almost immediately last season and now that they get to do that again, you can just tell they’ve been waiting all year for this. Not a single one of them is surprised by these results.”

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Edited by Arhaan Raje
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