So I’ve heard loads of criticism from Cavs fans that the recent hire of Mike Brown was absolutely terrible for the Lakers. Personally, my favorite comment was that the Lakers “went from the triangle offense to no offense!” Apparently people from Cleveland enjoy terrible jokes as much as they enjoy rooting for teams that choke annually.
Now I’d like to take a step back from the Stephen A. Smiths and the J.A. Adandes, who admittedly have predilections toward the Lakers, but have also recently joined in the blasting of the Lakers’ management for their coaching vacancy decision. I can’t take them seriously because I truly feel that they would criticize the Lakers regardless if they hired Brown, Dunleavy, Adelman, or even Shaw. The Lakers are obviously in trouble as too many opposing teams have too much young talent. Forecasting that the next Laker coach will fail to win a title is the easiest and safest prediction to make for a journalist.
But like Jim Buss, Jerry Bush, and Mitch Kupchack, I feel compelled to analyze the coaching decision unemotionally and realistically. This starts with both looking at the coaching field available and Brown’s resume. In no way does this say that Mike Brown is a top-3 NBA coach or a multi-championship caliber coach. However, this analysis will show that he is currently a good coach for the Lakers and the best option of the available coaches.
Issues with Mike Dunleavy, Rick Adelman, and Brian Shaw
I’ve had it with fans clamoring for Dunleavy or Adelman based on experience. I agree, experience failing is important to winning (Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant will only get better after their recent losses); however, Dunleavy and Adelman have only failed throughout their long careers with no experience succeeding.
Ask yourself this: What are Mike Dunleavy and Rick Adelman good at? Seriously, what are they good at? Maybe Adelman is decent at running a competitive offense. The same offense that failed to get the extremely talented Sacramento Kings to the NBA finals year after year after year.
Dunleavy, on the other hand, is solely good at not losing his job for 4 years with each team that he joins. A GM will hire Dunleavy to get his team to first or second round of the playoffs. It’s the safe bet. A team will rarely completely flounder or excel with Dunleavy as coach. Likewise, even though he actually took the Trailblazers to the WCF in 2000, Dunleavy ensured that Portland would never play past their talent limitations as he failed to rally his team to hold onto a 15 point lead late in game 7.
Contrarily, Shaw represents a talented, intelligent young voice that could have potentially held the Lakers together particularly because he is a familiar face to the organization. However, my issues with Shaw deal with his complete lack of experience. Shaw was low even on the hierarchy of Laker assistant coaches. His responsibility was minimal; he wasn’t a Tom Thibodeau assistant coach type-figure. His leadership skills need to be refined with a younger team before he looks to coach a team full of extremely talented veterans.
Brown is a defensive-minded coach with experience. We know what he’s good at and we know he’s taken teams with only one talented player deep into the playoffs.
In five seasons with the Cavs, Brown was 272-138. He led very physical teams and made it to the finals with Larry Hughes as his second best player. He was continually coaching with his hands tied behind his back as Lebron had more control over the team personnel than Brown.
Equally as important, Brown is hungry. He feels humiliated by Lebron’s departure. Stealing a title or two away from Lebron and co. in their primes would give Brown the vindication he craves.
In terms offense, yes, Mike Brown is terrible at creating schemes. This is why the Lakers need to seek brilliant offensive minds for assistant coaches (admittedly, this is very tough to do). However, I also believe that the Laker veterans know how to implement schemes on offense a whole lot better than the young, athletic wings and bigs of Brown’s Cavs’ teams. Kobe and Gasol know how to score. The Lakers need to defend better.
In summation, I really don’t know if Brown will fall in line with the Laker tradition of past excellent coaches like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. But he has the tools to succeed and is a far better option than the other coaches available.
Lastly, if he does get to the NBA finals, I also do believe he has insider knowledge of the weaknesses of Lebron, which I liken to Coach Don Nelson knowing how to stop Dirk Nowitzki in the 2007 first round matchup between the Warriors and Mavericks. Only time will tell if he can motivate the Lakers and scheme well enough defensively for an aging team to succeed, but if he doesn’t, I doubt that many of us can legitimately attribute the Lakers’ failures to Brown’s lack of skills or inspiration.