New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has indicated he sees Russell Westbrook as a key member of his team going into the new season.
The NBA Finals series is ongoing and Game 3 takes place in Boston on Wednesday night, with the series tied at 1-1 after the first two games in San Francisco.
Golden State Warriors are 27/20 to win in the Money Line and Boston Celtics can be backed at 20/31.
The Lakers missed out on the playoffs this year after finishing in 11th place in the Western Conference, meaning they weren't even involved in the play-in tournament.
As a result, Frank Vogel was sacked as head coach and Ham was brought in as his replacement last week.
There had been speculation the Lakers could seek to move Westbrook on but former Atlanta and Milwaukee assistant coach Ham says the 2017 MVP has a big role to play in the season ahead and has challenged the 33-year-old to raise the defensive side of his game by "guarding at a championship level".
"I want him to feel loved, I want him to feel comfortable," Ham told the Lakeshow. "You gonna bring him off the bench you gonna do this, no none of that stuff matters. I need him to set the tone defensively. He said he's willing to do that. He's made it his own personal mission to be better defensively."
Westbrook averaged a triple-double for four of the five seasons prior to his switch to the Lakers but was unable to replicate those performances in LA.
The former Oklahoma City Thunder star averaged just 18.5 points-per-game this season, his lowest total since his second year in the NBA, with 7.4 rebounds-per-game and 7.1 assists.