It was a bit of a surprise when the Lakers announced that they chose to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, Mike Brown, to replace Phil Jackson. Brian Shaw seemed to be the likely choice for the job as he was favored by Jackson, the players and the fans. However, Jim Buss seemed to want to go in an entirely new direction. With Brown, that is what they will get.
Even though Brown has said that he will incorporate some elements of Tex Winter and Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, we do not know how much of it will be used and how. We also do not know how much of the triangle offense Mike Brown actually knows. After all, Jackson has repeatedly stated that the system is extremely difficult to truly understand and it takes practice and a certain mindset to comprehend it.
According to an interview with Lakers.com writer, Mike Trudell, Brown simplifies his offense in three points. Below is what he had to say on his offensive philosophy, which values control of the game’s pace and points in the paint.
1) Attack the Clock
Brown: “Let’s get that ball from the back court to the front court within the first three and four seconds. Why? We don’t want to get to our second our third option and see that the shot clock is winding down to two seconds or something like that. We want to get the ball up the floor, and if we can run for a layup, you’ll never see me stop that. My last two years in Cleveland, we were a top 10 and top 5 offensive team in the NBA. We averaged over 100 points a game both those years.”
2) Ball Reversal with Paint Touches
Brown: “We want to drive and kick, we want to go inside out. We want to put that pressure on our opponent’s defense of letting them know that the ball is going to be down there, because we have guys that can drive it and guys that can post up.”
Brown: “You have to have the right spacing in order for guys to be able to operate and go to work.”*
In this same interview, Brown discussed his defensive goals. His defensive philosophy will likely work well with one of the Lakers’ biggest advantages: their length. Defense is what Brown is all about and defense has been a desire for the Lakers since they were bounced from the Finals by Boston in 2008.
1) Shrink the Floor
Brown: “We don’t want anything easy to happen in that paint.”
2) Don’t Give up Middle Drives
Brown: “If the ball gets to the middle of the floor, there are too many outlets. You can go left, you can go right, you can finish at the rim.”
3) Get Multiple Efforts to Finish with a Shot Contest
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but in short, giving up on a play is never an option on defense, from the start of an offensive possession through an opponent’s shot attempt.*
There is just one problem. Brown’s coaching style and practices are only concepts right now in Los Angeles. Because of the lockout, there can be no basketball communication between Brown and any of the players. Therefore, when the season finally gets underway, whenever that will be, this will be a major setback for the Lakers.
The coaching table is completely different than what the Lakers have been accustomed to for a little over a decade. The personnel is different and the philosophy is different. This is why having an off-season of forced non-communication and no playing time together to get used to a new system will be a disadvantage for the Lakers.
However, there is something to be said about a complete overhaul. The NBA is changing. The teams that have been absolute front runners for the past 10 or so years are facing a new reality. First, these teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics, are getting older. Second, the league is getting younger and more athletic. Third, new teams are emerging as contenders, such as the Thunder, Grizzles, and Blazers.
The Lakers need to adapt to these changes if they want a chance to remain a top threat in the league and to compete with the rest of the Western Conference. Mike Brown’s new coaching philosophy and style might be just the thing that will rejuvenate the Lakers. However, Lakers fans won’t know if this will happen until the owners and players union come together and agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.