Darvin Ham’s latest comments indicate he plans to use Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley together

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham reportedly has lineups planned to play Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley together in the 2022-23 season.

Los Angeles appears to be proceeding as if Westbrook will be on the roster for the time being, and Ham has been focused on getting the most out of Westbrook with the Lakers’ new roster.

“Yet I am also hearing that, if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains determined to carve out a real role for Westbrook,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote. “Sources say that the Lakers, to date, have strongly resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him like the [Houston] Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for longtime Westbrook adversary Patrick Beverley.”

Last season, Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star, averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc.

While adding Beverley causes a bit of a logjam at the guard position for the Lakers, Ham appears focused on getting the most out of Westbrook in the 2022-23 campaign. The Lakers could still move on from Westbrook, but it would likely mean parting ways with draft capital to convince a team to take his salary.

How can the Lakers change Westbrook’s role?

While Beverley is a better shooter than Westbrook, there is the possibility that the Lakers could play Westbrook off the ball as a slasher. It’s no secret that the former MVP struggled with his jump shot last season, so Los Angeles could try to limit the number of times he has to take jumpers in the 2022-23 season.

Ham already discussed using Westbrook as a slasher earlier this offseason.

One path to that is by surrounding Westbrook with shooting, which could include Beverley, and allowing him to create for others. Last season for Minnesota, Beverley averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc.

The Lakers would love if Beverley could improve his numbers from deep, but he’s an upgrade over Westbrook in that category. There’s no doubt that Westbrook can still be a dynamic playmaker, but it appears the Lakers are trying to tweak his role from the one he held last season as a primary ball-handler.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Lakers are hoping Ham can turn things around with a new-look roster. As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis stay healthy, Los Angeles has other pieces that it can test alongside them to build a playoff-caliber team in the 2022-23 season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.