Brian Shaw and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff have been presented with the unique challenge of coaching a young team that simultaneously is attempting to grow together and win now, so as to become attractive to free agents.
Also, the Lakers don’t own their first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. They have Luke Walton as head coach, meaning the team is going to have positive energy coming from the top. But teams that have to win also need some competitive fire injected into the mix sometimes.
Walton certainly has shown he can bring that as he berates referees and his players alike at times during games, but Kevin Ding of Lakers.com makes it sound like Shaw is the one spewing the heat at the young roster more often:
While Walton’s easygoing demeanor sets one tone for the Lakers, Shaw is the closest thing the Lakers have to a Kobe disciple—no matter Shaw’s catch-and-release conservation. Shaw grew up in the same area as Gary Payton in Oakland, played with Larry Bird on the Celtics, battled against Michael Jordan on the Bulls and then got all that time showered with what Shaw describes as “all the time—no mercy” via Bryant’s character.
“I coach the same way right now,” Shaw said. “There are guys on this team right now who want to beat me up, every day, because I talk so much s—. That’s the way that I know. I refuse to relent.”
Shaw’s fiery mentality is a needed component of any winning culture. Even with as much fun as the Golden State Warriors obviously have during their dominant runs, they have Steve Kerr screaming at them at times, or Draymond Green trash-talking everyone on the team.
The Lakers had previously always had Kobe Bryant for that, but now that he’s gone, the team needs someone else, and no player on the roster currently fits that bill. Kyle Kuzma recently admitted to Shaw regularly getting under his skin during shooting competitions.
That’s fine while the team is still developing, and it’s left Shaw to pick up the slack, or for Walton to do things like not call fouls in practice to get his players agitated with one another.
As long as that type of coaching is done constructively with the right goals in mind, it will help this young team continue to take steps forward in its development.
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