June 19, 2024

The Lakers under Darvin Ham have preached consistency, the people who have worked with Ham at prior stops signaling his steady-handedness as one of his superpowers as a basketball coach.

Three games into this season, though, Ham has vowed to look inward at his role in the team’s 1-2 start, saying he’ll reassess the way he has handled rotations.

“My rotation, we got to really dig into that and really figure out and really take a close look … so guys are in rhythm,” Ham said. “We have a great collection of players. And I played in this league. When you know when you’re going in and who you’re playing with, that matters. So buckling down on our rotation, I’ll start there. That definitely is the main thing that’s on my mind.”

Thus far, it has been murky. LeBron James, who Ham said the team was hoping to hold to 30 minutes or so after the opener, has eclipsed that mark in the last two games. He played 39 minutes Sunday in a 132-127 overtime loss to the Kings.

Cam Reddish has seen his minutes cut since playing 17 in the opener, while Christian Wood, Rui Hachimura and Jaxson Hayes have all been in and out of sub patterns.

Through three games, 10 different five-man lineups have played at least five minutes with another nine playing at least three.

Sacramento has only had five different lineups play five or more minutes this season.

“Your job is if you’re on the floor, then you try to make it work with the other four guys that are on the floor with you,” James said. “You try to complement each other the best way you can both offensively and defensively. Until Coach figures out a rhythm, until you know what your sub pattern is or whatever the case may be, you just go out and play.”

Asked if his changes would consist of tightening his rotations or being more rigid with substitution patterns, Ham said, “I think it’s a little bit of all that. A little mixture of all of that.”

Part of the issue, like it was Sunday, has been a lack of timely shot making. Austin Reaves struggled through a one-for-12 night while the team, as a whole, missed eight of its 10 three-point shots in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“We did execute. We got some great looks,” James said. “The timely shots that we weren’t able to knock down, they were able to knock down.”

Anthony Davis also pointed to familiar problems with transition defense and offensive rebounding (the Kings had 20 second-chance points) as issues the Lakers need to address.

Gabe [Vincent] missed a substantial amount of the preseason, still trying to get going and find his rhythm,” Davis said. “Austin’s trying to find his shot, especially tonight. [Jarred Vanderbilt] is out, which is a big part of our defense, just guarding the ball and helping us on the boards for rebounds. It’s a lot that plays a factor. Still trying to figure it out.

“We’ve got new faces. I think we’re playing pretty well once we take care of the offensive rebounding and the transition, then we’ll be fine. And that doesn’t matter who is on the floor. That’s just an effort thing at this point.”

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