Coach Darvin Ham leads the team in a workout

Coach Ham Discusses Westbrook and Beverley Backcourt

Patrick Beverley and head coach Darvin Ham both addressed reporters Tuesday afternoon after Beverley’s first Laker workout at the UCLA Health Training Center.

Also in attendance was Russell Westbrook. The pair’s history speaks for itself – neither shying away from a provocation from the other – but Ham and Beverley expressed, in specifics, an optimism for their union.  

“I wouldn’t want to be in the backcourt and having to deal with these two guys,” Ham said, “So it’s going to be a lovely experience.”

“I was asked this question two, three years ago,” Beverley said, “About someone I’ve always wanted to play with. And [Westbrook] was the first name.”

Beverley and Westbrook are some of the league’s most notorious competitors, overflowing with “those competitive juices” as Ham put it.

“They’re going to feed of each other great,” Ham said. “Those dudes – there’s no quit in either one of them – they’re tough.”

But there’s more to their potential unison than just intangibles. LeBron James is the only player on the Lakers roster who shot above league average of 35.4% from three last season, even with the recent inclusion of Beverley.

Despite shooting just 34% from deep a season ago, Ham said they “expect” the new Laker will join James on that list – a belief validated by Beverley’s total body of work.

The guard topped 38% in each of the six seasons prior and bested 40% from the corner in the most recent four, including a 47% mark in what was his worst statistical season from beyond the arc.

“I think it’s perfect,” Beverley said of the fit. “Russ, he loves the midpost and transition. He likes to post on the left wing. That’s easy for me. All corner threes.”

As he said, Beverley expects to open the floor for Westbrook out of the midpost, but opening his transition game starts with their commitment on the other end of the floor.

When asked about them starting alongside each other, Ham’s answer was simple: “If they play defense… If they play defense.”

Beverley sees himself as the lead point of attack defender to “take the defensive pressure off Russ.” His willingness to take initiative on the ball frees up Westbrook to ball hawk and chase rebounds – increasing the nine-time All-Star’s touches in transition.

Westbrook was nearly two points per 100 possessions better in transition than his overall mark a season ago. While last year was a statistical down year, the future HOFer finished above the 80th percentile in transition offense in each of the pervious nine campaigns.

And despite his dip in on/off splits across the board, he still finished as an above league average offensive player off a steal.  Freeing up Westbrook defensively could put him in more advantageous offensive situations.

In addition to more fastbreak opportunities, Ham mentioned how the reduced defensive pressure can play to his strengths as a defender.

“Very versatile,” Ham said of L.A.’s defense with the acquisition of Beverley. “I watched Russ, last year, guard Giannis, and I shocked the hell out of me. We’re going to have a very, extremely dynamic defensive squad.”

Their statistical bodies of work – in addition to the character endorsements of their new head coach – suggests a pairing of two of the league’s most infamous rivals could make sense as a starting backcourt.

“They’re both highly competitive human beings who want to win,” Ham said. “Give me 17 of those guys in my locker room like that. If we prepare the right way, I can guarantee you there’ll be great results on the back end.”