The Los Angeles Lakers had a tough decision on their hands when Phil Jackson announced his retirement. They could go with an experienced assistant in Brian Shaw or go with one of the many journeyman coaches on the block. The Buss family and Mitch Kupchak decided to go with what they perceived as the safe option in Mike Brown. For the average fan, this appears to be a good move. I mean to say that he is known for being LeBron or I should say Princess James’ first real NBA coach. There was Paul Silas first who did absolutely nothing. (I don’t consider Paul Silas a coach. He is just a bad assistant coach at best.)
Brown is known more for his defense than his offensive play calling and it showed in LeBron’s first few seasons. In case you missed those games, they consisted of a bunch of isolation pick and pop scenarios over and over again. NBA teams grew wise to the fact that they could force LeBron to beat them from the outside and live with that. Now, in Mike Brown’s offense, the Cavaliers didn’t have a secondary offensive threat to get people off LeBron James. Let’s look at the roster they had back then …Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, Mo Williams, Wally Szczerbiak and of course Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The offense was predictable and Brown did not use his strengths and few assets he had well.
The Lakers now are a stacked team in comparison to the Cavaliers of old. They have a franchise player in Kobe Bryant, who can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. Bryant has no weaknesses when it comes to three-point shooting, and can make teams pay for double-teaming the post. They also have veteran leadership in Derek Fisher. He is a guy who can make the open three, play the point and distribute to everyone. Fisher has no problems in letting other people score. Brown also has two above average big guys in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Bynum, even though he is suspended for his dirty hit on J.J. Barea during the playoffs, will still be able to contribute. You have to ask yourself why the Lakers are not going to be able to contend for an NBA title.
Here are five reasons they will not win next year:
1. The Lakers need a mentality like they had with Phil Jackson. The fact is that Jackson had the triangle offense, which was something that teams feared and had to game plan for. With Brown, all of his teams he has coached are half court offenses. What that means for scouting is that teams take advantage of this. They will send another guard to crash the boards. They can also use a guard to start an outlet to start a fast break. Bryant is a great defender, but he is not a track star. The Lakers have no one that can run down a transition bucket and contest a shot. Please note my prediction that the Lakers will be more half court than any team in NBA history. They may even rival the Portland Trail Blazers of the last couple of years for that title.
2. Brown has never coached a great or even a good center in his career. I can see the goobers that would say Ilgauskas is a good center but he is not. He is slow, has terrible lateral movement and was worthless. The Lakers have Andrew Bynum, who has more upside than when Greg Oden was drafted, but became injury-prone.
3. There are too many pieces in L.A that will not work with Brown’s coaching style. Meta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) is probably the best example of this. He is horrible in running set plays. He is good when he can roam and set up on the corner for a three, but there are reasons that teams leave him open. You let him get his points and you live with the result. If World Peace is cold, teams use a zone to isolate him into shooting jump shots all night long. Matt Barnes is also a player that has had flare ups with coaches in the past. You also have Bynum, who has had a rocky relationship with Phil Jackson in the past. So with all this added, you must ask if the Lakers will buy into Brown. The answer for this is a simple no. Los Angeles may get 45 or 50 wins, but that will be from Kobe Bryant getting his touches and doing enough to win.
4. The management of the Lakers will make it a hard learning curve for Brown. They will expect a title or bust mentality out of him, and to be blunt, it just isn’t realistic. A team cannot go from one offensive strategy to another in flawless transition. The Lakers are going to get exposed in the early part of the season. There are going to be high turnover games that lead to stupid losses to teams not even in the Lakers league (Timberwolves, Cavaliers, and Kings). At some point in the next season, the Lakers will struggle to get wins. They will probably have a tough loss to a team like the Spurs or the Thunder and it will rattle the team. I have a hard time believing that Mike Brown can control the Lakers.
5. Kobe Bryant is getting older and is not LeBron James as far as athleticism. He is a great athlete and is probably in the upper echelon of shooting guards, but he is in the latter part of his career. He has logged lots and lots of minutes over the years, and it is likely that this year you may see the effects of this. I ask you to consider that he has played for 35 to 40 minutes a game for a majority of his career. Another factor to increase this is that Shannon Brown most likely is going to test free agency instead of taking a qualifying offer from the Lakers. Without Brown, Kobe will have to play a few more minutes each game than last year.
With all of these factors to consider, it is likely that the Lakers will lose in the first or second round at the latest. Mitch Kupchak needs to consider trading to get another off guard to help them or try to re-sign Shannon Brown. Without either of the two happening, the Lakers are in some real trouble.