How Kurt Rambis Will Help The Lakers Significantly

How Kurt Rambis Will Help The Lakers Significantly


wolf0414coverI recently wrote an article on how Lakers fans were stuck with Mike D’Antoni, and how we as fans might as well embrace him and see how far he can take the team in a restructuring period.

Naturally, I took some heat for it (although surprisingly, many fans were actually receptive to it).

However, now with the addition of Kurt Rambis to D’Antoni’s staff, perhaps that stance will lighten, or fans will at least experience some level of comfort knowing one key member of the Lakers’ 2009 championship coaching staff is back on the sidelines (Rambis left to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves the following season).

Rambis, who had often been critical of Mike D’Antoni’s system–or lack thereof–will likely be there for one reason: Defense.

Rambis strongly favors an intricate offense such as the Triangle, but much as he was a defensive player in his playing days, he’s a defensive coach in his coaching days.

After the 2008 NBA Finals, in which the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics, Rambis was appointed by Phil Jackson as the defensive coordinator and implemented some zone schemes.

Now, although the Lakers’ opponents’ field goal percentage in 2008 (.445) was already good (ranked 6th in the league) and stayed relatively the same in 2009 (ranked 6th again at .447), opponents’ points per game dropped from 101.3 (19th) in 2008 to 99.3 (13th) in 2009.

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That may still not seem like a huge leap, but the improved defensive strategy marginally helped the Lakers in the playoffs, leading them to their first championship under the new Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol era, which has netted them two championships.

How much so?

Although the regular season numbers were similar, in the postseason, the Lakers’ opponents’ field goal percentage dropped from 43.6 (6th) in 2008 to 42.9 (2nd) in 2009.

More significantly, opponents’ points per game went from 100.2 (12th) all the way down to 95.2 (8th).

Obviously, the health of Trevor Ariza and relative health of Andrew Bynum played important parts in the 2009 playoffs as opposed to the run in 2008, but Rambis’ new defensive schemes certainly helped out quite a bit.

At the very least, fans can be certain that under the tutelage of Kurt Rambis, the Lakers should be paying more attention to defense in the coming season.

Some will be hoping that should D’Antoni be fired, Rambis would be the replacement, which is certainly a feasible option and could be a solid backup plan.

I personally want to give D’Antoni’s offensive system another shot, but am plenty more comfortable with the defensive side of things now that Clark Kent is back with the Lakers.


Lakers hire Kurt Rambis and Johnny Davis to the coaching staff. Be sure to subscribe to our Lakers Nation YouTube channel by clicking here!


    the proof is in the pudding hopefully these coaches know how to coach… “players wins games and coaches loses games..” mark jackson quote.
    if the team stays healthy they can make noise and go past the first round. just hope for a healthy season, and better chemistry.
    head coach better utilize his entire bench throughout the season otherwise older players like this team will run into injuries again. kobe’s stubborness and selfishness needs to go now that its towards the end of his career!!!
    for the last roster spot they need an excellent 3 point shooter period!!!
    hopefully lakers management will workout about 3 or 5 real good 3 point shooters and have them go at it at the 3 point line and see who is the best and consistent shooter and select that player for the last roster spot…

  • richard

    Great analysis from a blogger over at forumbluandgold who goes by the handle of Kevin

    In 08 a backcourt with Farmar, Sasha, Fisher, Kobe, Luke and
    Ariza ranked 6th in steals. Kobe and Fisher were very solid on defense
    in 08 and the other players made mainly opportunistic plays. Not sure
    about Young and Johnson’s instincts but they have some speed needed to
    jump passing lanes. With a new defense scheme and Rambis back in the
    fold Lakers may get some of that back and won’t rank 25th in steals like
    last year.

    In 09 it’s tough to compare to next season because they had the
    continuity and years together to get chemistry down. But Lakers ranked
    2nd in steals with Fisher, Farmar, Ariza, Kobe and Sasha on the

    In 10 when the pace slowed they ranked 11th in steals. With Farmar,
    Fisher, Kobe, Ron and Brown as the main 5 man rotation. Man to man
    defense improved with Metta and Kobe and Fisher aged a bit. But still
    right around top 10. Still with Rambis on the sidelines and some youth
    on the perimeter.

    As the pace got even slower and players got even older from 11-13
    they ranked 14th, 30th and 25th. The youngest player on the perimeter
    that got at least 19 minutes the last 3 years was Brown and Meeks at 25.
    The other 4 were 30 and over, most springy was Barnes. This year Lakers
    have at least 4 players 28 or younger who’ll see minutes in the
    backcourt, drastic turnaround from last 3 years. Not saying a few
    younger players will make the Lakers the ball hawking team they were.
    But it could change their defensive mindset to one of aggressiveness and
    taking more chances rather than sitting back playing prevent defense
    because they’re so slow. Young legs and having Rambis helps Lakers stay
    in front of their man, quicker on closeouts and jumping passing lanes.
    But going smaller probably means being a top rebounding team is done so
    rotations must be quicker and gang rebounding must happen to prevent 2nd
    chance points from stockpiling. Could be an okay trade off if a nice
    scheme is implemented.

    We might be in a very good ride this coming season.