A few days ago, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register sat down and had lunch with Lakers coach Mike Brown. A few topics were touched upon such as Brown’s work ethic. When mentioning the upcoming Laker offense, Brown described it as feeding Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum inside; not the Kobe show.
Just what might this type of offense look like?
When asking fans about their thoughts on the Lakers, the most common responses I got were:
- Kobe is a ball-hog and needs to pass more (when the team loses, of course).
- Kobe is amazing! (When the team wins).
- Pau is a stiff and is wasted.
- The team needs to trade Bynum.
Mike Brown’s vision can immediately change all of the negative opinions.
Let’s go back to the 2002-03 season. Mike Brown was an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, who defeated the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals. The success of that team was built around Tim Duncan, who had David Robinson and Tony Parker to aid him.
Duncan led the team in scoring with 23.3 points, rebounding with 12.9 boards and blocks with 2.9 per game. Parker averaged 5.3 assists per game. Robinson, who was in his final season, contributed mostly on the defensive end; adding 1.7 blocks per game.
The team scored 95.8 points per game and allowed 90.4. It was good enough to secure them a tie with the Dallas Mavericks for the best record in the NBA at 60-22.
In 2010, the Lakers averaged 101.5 points per game and allowed 95.4. The trio that Brown acquires may be better than the one he had in San Antonio.
Kobe is 33-years-old and coming off of a season where he averaged 25.8 points per game, a number that might be more familiar to him under Brown’s system than the 30 points per game that fans expect. He teams with 30-year-old Pau Gasol, who will assume the role of a younger David Robinson. The last part of the trio is 24-year-old-to-be, Andrew Bynum.
Bynum is the defensive presence that Brown longs for. He has averaged at least two blocks per game in two of the last four seasons. Over the last three seasons he has bettered his rebounding numbers, but still has yet to reach the 10.3 rebounds he averaged in the 2007-08 season.
But the goal now is to realize his offensive potential. He’ll get much help from Gasol, who looks to redeem himself after a lackluster playoff run.
Gasol was pivotal in Spain’s European Championship victory. With Pau, you know what you will get as he is as consistent as they come. Gasol has averaged in the area of 18.8 points per game over the last four seasons. Over the last two seasons, his defensive numbers have gotten better. Pau has averaged double-digit rebounds in the last two seasons and has averaged just over a block and a half in that time.
What about the leader?
Kobe is an 11-time member of the NBA’s All-Defensive team, including the last six seasons in a row.
That said, the defense is there for coach Brown. But we all wonder what we can expect out of the offense. A look at the Spurs offers that a lot can get done through the big man. Can Andrew Bynum break through and become more of a scoring threat?
Many people feel that the Lakers should trade Bynum while he still has potential. Well, there is a reason that Mitch Kupchak keeps him around.
Brown will look to show more confidence in Bynum as he “completes” the building process.
Brown knows that when Bynum “arrives,” the Lakers will take off. Everybody knows that opposing teams game-plan against Kobe and Pau. But how do you incorporate Bynum into that?
Think about it this way. Derek Fisher dribbles down the court. He knows that Kobe will be covered for sure. Now to the next option, Pau Gasol. If he’s open, pass him the rock. If not, go to Bynum, who almost surely will not have as much pressure. Initially, the thought might be that Bynum would look for Kobe. But, as a developed player, he can create his own opportunity. Once he does, this will draw more pressure to him. From there, it paves the way for Gasol to receive more touches. Before long, the Lakers will have a dual-threat down low that will lead to more scoring opportunities.
What about Kobe? When three guys are down in the paint trying to defend the low-post against two monsters, it allows for somebody to be open. It’s not likely to be Kobe, but it will allow for Kobe to make something happen.
Pass, pass, pass may become synonymous with the Lakers, and it will work.
I was skeptical at first about Mike Brown’s system, but success is built around him. Whether or not the team will gel and get it together remains to be seen. The potential is there, but until it’s realized, it’s just potential.
But how much potential is needed to take the “stiffness” away from Gasol? How about to turn Bynum into a star?
Enough to mention at the end of the conversation that Kobe will still get his 20 shots per game. So a change is in store, but maybe not too pivotal of a change.
All we can do is wait and see.