When I think of Darvin Ham, I think first of that amazing, glass-shattering dunk he had against North Carolina while at Texas Tech.
Then I think about the 1997 dunk contest. While many of us remember Kobe Bryant winning it, I also remember Ham putting on one of the best non-finalist performances in recent memory.
Ham is one of the most underrated dunkers of his era, but I don’t remember much else about his playing career. His only coaching experience has been in the last three seasons with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBDL, first as an assistant coach, then as head coach last season.
That’s what makes it a mystery as how he made it to the Lakers coaching staff. It’s a hire that on the surface doesn’t make sense because of Ham’s limited resume. Although I do wonder if he and Kobe would trade stories about how far they’ve come since that dunk contest.
So what will he bring to a team in need of a shakeup? I see him serving as a mentor to the younger players to help them be ready to contribute in any fashion.
He mentioned in this interview that he used his experience as a role player to teach his team about defense and excelling in their given role. That could be perfect for Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter and Andrew Goudelock.
All four players will have days where they contribute or collect bench splinters. They could learn from Ham the importance of being ready and not lose morale over lack of playing time.
Ham could also help Shannon Brown to embrace his role off the bench. Ham and Brown relate as high flying dunkers so Ham could help in making Brown reassess him game to see how he can best serve the team besides dunks.
But if anything, Ham could give dunk tips if Brown desires to re-enter the Slam Dunk contest and clear his name from that debacle two years ago.
In theory, Ham will probably be used as a special assistant similar to how Craig Hodges was under Phil Jackson. I don’t see him contributing much besides help on defensive schemes, and he definitely won’t be a major factor with most of the squad.
Yet his role as a possible mentor to young players transitioning into contributing pieces could be valuable considering how much the Lakers will need it to make a successful run into the future.