The Los Angeles Lakers are unquestionably in the midst of a tough stretch right now, and ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins said head coach Darvin Ham has to take some of the blame for it.
“I will not let Darvin Ham off the hook,” Perkins said. “He gotta elevate his game as well, with his rotations, with his set-calling, with everything across the board. The way he stagger Bron (LeBron James) and A.D. (Anthony Davis) minutes. All across the board, Darvin Ham got to elevate his game.”
The Lakers have lost eight of 11 games since winning the championship of the first NBA In-Season Tournament back on Dec. 9. They have dropped two in a row following a 129-109 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
The cold spell has put their record at 17-17 and in 10th place in the Western Conference entering play on Tuesday. It also may be raising doubts about Ham’s future, with betting odds on his possible replacement getting leaked.
The Lakers do have a good chance to turn things around with nine of their next 10 games at home, starting Wednesday against the Miami Heat. Los Angeles is 11-4 so far this season at Crypto.com Arena.
James played more than 36 minutes against the Pelicans despite feeling ill. He was able to score 34 points, but the previously stated plan of limiting the 39-year-old’s minutes and workload this season has not truly come to fruition.
That’s in part because with D’Angelo Russell struggling and now sidelined by a tailbone injury, James has been forced to take on more point guard responsibilities. In his critique of the Lakers, Perkins said they play at too slow a pace and also miss guard Dennis Schroder, who left this past offseason by signing with the Toronto Raptors as a free agent.
James is averaging more than 34 minutes per game in his 31 appearances this season, contributing 25.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists per contest. He also was named the first MVP of the In-Season Tournament. Davis is playing more than 35 minutes per game in his 32 appearances, chipping in with 25.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per outing.
Ham has tinkered with the Lakers’ starting lineup lately, inserting Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura.
Until the head coach is able to land on a sustainable successful formula and the Lakers get back to their winning ways, more criticism, questions and rumors are likely to arise.