The LA Lakers allowed Alex Caruso to leave in free agency due to their belief in Talen Horton-Tucker’s potential. LA’s 21-year-old guard has seemingly regressed and the team could push new head coach Darvin Ham to prioritize his development.
Al Horford of the Boston Celtics lauded the LA Lakers’ decision to hire Darvin Ham as their head coach, calling their rivals very lucky to have him. “Big Al” worked with Ham before with the Atlanta Hawks and knows how the new Lakers head coach operates.
Amid all the hoopla surrounding him in the offseason, Russell Westbrook will look to silence his doubters next season. Whether he still plays in Hollywood or not is still in doubt. But the former MVP has been seen working on his much-maligned jump shots.
Talen Horton-Tucker’s development could be close to top of new head coach Darvin Ham’s to-do list
In each of his last three seasons, Talen Horton-Tucker’s scoring average has increased by a little while his efficiency has suffered. The LA Lakers chose THT over Alex Caruso and have not had the kind of return they were hoping to get.
While Caruso was a significant part of his new team, the Chicago Bulls, this season, Horton-Tucker didn’t develop under former head coach Frank Vogel. With Darvin Ham now calling the shots, THT should be a priority for the team even as they look to return to the NBA postseason.
Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen and Roll had this to report on the LA Lakers’ potential strategy for Horton-Tucker's next campaign:
“So, as they have just hired a first-time head coach in Darvin Ham, they’ll need to offer up a situation that allows him to be successful — basically the opposite of what they did with Horton-Tucker last year.”
THT played 60 games in the 2021-22 season, but hasn’t really blossomed under Vogel’s tutelage. LA will be in significantly better shape if Ham can make the most of Horton-Tucker’s vast potential.
Russell Westbrook already putting in work to fix his jump shot
After his dream return to his hometown team turned into a nightmare, Russell Westbrook seems determined to make next season even better. “Brodie’s” obvious problem in the LA Lakers’ offensive scheme around LeBron James is his inability to consistently hit jump shots.
Westbrook shot a horrific 29.8% from deep and 37.8% from 16 feet to the long-range arc last season. Due to his shooting struggles, his scoring clip also dropped to 18.5 PPG, the lowest in his career since the 2009-10 season.
Footage of Westbrook hard at work on his problematic jumper should be good news for the LA Lakers and potential trade partners.
The former MVP has always been very defiant with how he plays, often resulting in confrontations with the media. If he can channel all those rightfully-deserved criticisms of his game by working on that specific weakness, he might have a bigger impact next season.
Westbrook’s erratic shooting and colossal contract have reportedly scared most NBA executives. Perhaps the triple-double king isn’t too old yet to change his game and make himself a crucial part of the LA Lakers’ title aspirations.
Al Horford credits LA Lakers for Darvin Ham hire
The congratulatory messages for the Hollywood squad keep pouring in following their hiring of Darvin Ham to be the team’s head coach. One of the latest to credit the Lakers’ surprising move was Al Horford of the Boston Celtics.
Boston's starting center and LA's new bench tactician worked together with the Atlanta Hawks for three years. The first-time head coach was a key member of Mike Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta. Ham helped the Hawks reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2015 but they lost to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.
John Karalis of the Boston Sports Journal noted Horford’s excited words after Darvin Ham’s hiring:
“Darvin is about as good as you’re going to see, a big competitor. Extreme competitor. The Lakers are really lucky to have a guy like him.”
The praise from numerous people has been greatly appreciated by Ham and the Lakers. The former NBA veteran already has his work cut out as he tries to lead LA back to the playoffs after their nightmare season.