NBA - US Sports: All You Need To Know: New Lakers coach Darvin Ham
Los Angeles Lakers hired Darvin Ham as their new head coach earlier this month, so who is the new man in charge of the most successful franchise in the NBA?
The Lakers have won a joint-record 17 championships and have reached more Finals Series than any other team in the league, having appeared in 32 in total.
Boston Celtics also have 17 titles and they missed out on the chance to claim the outright record this season after going down 4-2 to Golden State Warriors, and they have appeared in 22 Finals Series in total.
Ham has been handed his first head coaching role by the LA franchise and his task will be helping them get back to fighting for the championship after two below-par seasons.
Who is new Lakers coach Darvin Ham?
Ham is a 48-year-old former small forward who played college basketball with Texas Tech before spending eight years in the NBA, starting his career with Denver Nuggets and enjoying stints with Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons.
The Michigan-native was handed his first coaching position by former NBA D-League outfit Albuquerque Thunderbirds as assistant, later becoming their head coach.
In 2011, he was took his first coaching role in the NBA as he became the Lakers assistant - first under Mike Brown and then Mike D'Antoni.
Ham has spent the last nine seasons working under Mike Budenholzer, with Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
How did Darvin Ham become Lakers coach?
The Lakers opted to part company with Frank Vogel at the end of the season. Vogel led the team to their 17th championship in 2020, but they were eliminated in the first round last season and missed out on post-season altogether this year, as they finished in 11th spot in the Western Conference.
Injuries did play a part as LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who were both key to their 2020 success, missed large chunks of the season, while Russell Westbrook struggled to make an impact after his high-profile move from Washington.
The Lakers were linked with a number of potential candidates, including Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors and ex Utah Jazz coach Quinn Snyder, but ultimately opted for Ham - with general manager Rob Pelinka stating the fact he had spent time as Lakers assistant earlier in his career working in his favour.
What was Darvin Ham like as a player?
It is hard to make a judgement on what anyone will be like as a coach based on how they were as a player, but Ham did have some success during his career on court.
Most notably, Ham was a member of the Pistons team that won the championship in 2004 and over the course of his career he was known as a dunk specialist.
He competed in the NCAA slam dunk contest in 1996 and the NBA Slam Dunk Contest the following year, with Kobe Bryant taking that title in 1997.
Ham spent three years with the Bucks, his longest stint with one team, and despite not being a regular starter became a firm fan favourite and earned the nicknames "Ham Slamwich" and "Dunkin Darvin".
Ham averaged 2.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.5 assist and 1.8 fouls in 12.4 minutes over the course of his NBA career.
He never managed to establish himself as a regular starter, and in total started just 45 of his 417 regular season appearances.
What are Darvin Ham's coaching stats?
This will be Ham's first season as a head coach so as yet he hasn't recorded any coaching stats.
However, he did help Milwaukee Bucks win the championship as assistant in 2021, worked under Budenholzer as he won the NBA Coach of the Year award in the campaign prior to their Larry O'Brien Trophy success and helped Atlanta Hawks reach the play-offs for four consecutive seasons during his time in Georgia.
What is Darvin Ham's coaching style?
It is hard to pin down exactly what style Ham will adopt as a coach, but it will probably be quite similar to Budenholzer's, given their long working relationship together.
One of the key concepts Budenholzer adopted at Milwaukee was spacing out their offense, a move that gave star man Giannis Antetokounmpo a bit more freedom and ultimately helped them win the championship.
Ham has already revealed a few of his plans for the season ahead and he wants to help Westbrook improve defensively. Indeed, fixing the Lakers defense in general will be one of his key priorities.
The former Bucks assistant has clearly impressed the Lakers hierarchy with his ideas, as Pelinka says Ham has a "no-nonsense and hard-working approach", combined with a "sophisticated grasp of in-game strategy" that he hopes will result in immediate improvements in LA.
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