When I go back and read this at the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season, I hope I can say I was wrong. I fucked up. I misjudged the Lakers. I overexagerated their problems. I overreacted to the bad start. I underestimated this entire team. My bad. If I can say that about myself in mid June 2013, I will be a very happy man. Let's begin.
If you analyze this Laker team, you can come to one of two conclusions:
1. The Lakers have many problems.
- Bad defensive strategy
- Bad offensive strategy
- Unexplainable coaching decisions
- Lack of fundamental skills
2. The Lakers have only problem.
- Mike Brown
Here is the kicker: No matter which conclusion you chose to believe, it all leads back to the coaching staff...and who is the head coach of the Lakers??? MIKE FUCKING BROWN! Let's address all of his problems, one by one.
PROBLEM #1: Defense
Isn't Mike Brown supposed to be a defensive coach? He earned his stripes in Greg Popavich's staff as a defensive specialist. He was supposedly responsible for all the great defense they played when they won those early rings. Something tells me players like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Mario Ellie, Bruce Bowen, and Avery Johnson had more to do with that great defense than Mike Brown. He left the Spurs and they haven't really skipped a beat on defense. I will admit, during Mike Brown's fist year with the Lakers in 2011-2012, I felt the defense was much better than with Phil's last few years. (At least in the regular season.) But so far, contrary to what everyone believes, the Lakers biggest problem has been defense. Here are the point totals for their first 3 opponents of the season: 99, 116, 105.
You tell me. When you have Dwight Howard (easily the best defensive player in the league), Meta World Peace (former defensive player of the year), Kobe Bryant (9 time All-defensive team), and Pau Gasol (> 7ft wingspan, better than average defensive player), and you give up those kind of point totals, especially when 2 of those 3 teams (Dallas and Portland) aren't expected to make the playoffs, there is something internally wrong with your strategy. The Lakers keep wanting to funnel everything to their 7 footers. That is a good strategy only if your defense breaks down. But to use that as your primary defensive strategy? That's a flaw. Here is why:
1. Risk of Dwight getting in foul trouble when he keeps having to pick up driving guards.
Evidence: Game 1: Dwight fouls out. Game 2: Dwight has 5 fouls. Game 3: Dwight has 3 fouls in the first half and has to spend most of it on the bench meanwhile Clippers take control of the game and never look back.
2. When Player A funnels his man funnel towards Player B, Player B becomes a help defender. In turn, Player C becomes a help defender since he now has to account for Player B's man. In turn, player D becomes a help defender and so forth... When you play a decent offensive team, they will get wide open looks all game long when you keep having to play help defense and run towards offensive players with the ball.
Evidence: Game 1: Brandon Wright goes 5-5 when his man Dwight Howard keeps having to help on Darren Collison, Elton Brand, and Beaubois. Game 2: This time they picked up Dwight's man. But that left the perimeter open. Wesley Mathews goes 4/6 from deep, and Batum had 9 good looks from deep. Luckily he only made 3 of them.
How do you fix this? It's not easy. I admit. Especially when you have a major defensive flaw at point guard. First of all, they have to play straight up. Chances are, the PG will not be able to keep his man in check. But that's fine. They have Dwight on defense as a BACK UP if it breaks down. The guards also have to do a better job of fighting through the screens and recognizing who they are playing. If it's a good shooter, they can't go under the screen and they can't go softly. They have to fight OVER the screen with strength and speed. If it's an average shooter but someone that can drive, they should go UNDER the screen and take away the drive. More often than not, the players make wrong decision. That's a coaching issue!
PROBLEM #2: Offense
When Mike Brown was asked why he doesn't run more pick and roll, he said the pick and roll offense is too simple and predictable. Well, if that is the case, why does every single team in the league run it? Especially in the moments that matter. And if it so simple and predictable, how come the Lakers cannot stop it on the defensive end when the opposition keeps running it against them over and over again? Especially now with all this criticism, Mike Brown will not turn to the pick and roll because that would mean him having to admit he was wrong. If you don't want to run it every single time, at least run it two or three times per quarter. At least run it once in crunch time. How can you not, when you have the perfect players to do so? At some point, you have to admit you were wrong, and do the right thing.
And why does everyone think Eddie Jordan is some kind of offensive genius of all of a sudden? If he was, he wouldn't have been available for an assistant coaching gig. He would have been a head coach somewhere. The guy 257-343 was as a head coach. That's only a 428 winning percentage. That Princeton offense of his doesn't have a great track record.
PROBLEM #3: Bad coaching decisions
Why does Mike Brown insist on sitting Chris Duhon? I understand he is not a great NBA player. Maybe not even a good NBA player. There must be a reason why he was just a throw-in in the Dwight Howard trade. But surely, he must be better than Darius fucking Morris. Duhon is a seasoned vet with starting PG experience. That has to mean something. He has to be good enough to be a 3rd point guard on an NBA rotation.
On the same token, what is the fascination with Devin Ebanks? He's garbage. I don't understand why the Laker organization is so enamored with this guy. Any other team would have cut him a year ago. They keep hoping he will turn into Trevor Ariza circa 2009. I got news for you. Don't hold your breath.
PROBLEM #4: Lack of Fundamental Skills
I don't mean dribbling or shooting or footwork. I am talking about specialized fundamental skills based on the make up of your team. For example, Ray Allen mastered the fundamental skill of running without the ball and getting himself open for 3's based on his team's offense in Boston. Mainly, it involved Rondo's passing abilities. Blake Griffin and D. Jordan have mastered the skill of trailing a play or cutting towards the hoop for alley-oops when Chris Paul is driving or making plays. David West mastered the skill of setting a screen and then popping open for an open jump shot with Chris Paul in New Orleans. In the same way, the Lakers have great post players. So the perimeter players need to master a skill that takes advantage of that. That skill is the art of the post entry pass.
It sounds simple. But it's not. When there is heavy pressure on the passer and/or the post player, it is very tough to make a pass into the post player. That doesn't mean its impossible. Right now, the Laker players (MWP, Blake, Ebanks, Jamison, Morris, etc) just take one look at the post-up guy calling for the ball, and then decide to swing the ball to the weak side. That's why Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol only end up with 7 shots in the entire game. That's why they get frustrated. That's why they pick up fouls. The Laker dynasty in the early 2000's was based entirely on this skill. Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Ron Harper, Brian Shaw, and yes, even Kobe Bryant were masters at getting Shaq the ball no matter how much defensive pressure there was. Ironically, Kobe is the only guy on this team that knows how to make a post entry pass. Mike Brown needs to realize this and run some drills in practice that allow the players to master the skill of making a post entry pass.
PROBLEM #5: Carelessness
Why are the players so careless with the ball? Because they are not scared of the consequences. Why are they not scared of the consequences? Because they don't respect Mike Brown. Would you? Just look at the following picture. No successful coach in the history of the NBA has ever made that face.
Thanks for reading!
The King of Nothing
PS. Before the season I was 100% sure I was going to switch Time Warner Cable since Directv hasn't picked up the Lakers yet. Now, with each loss, I become one step closer to not caring about watching the Lakers this season. Not because I am a bandwagon fan, (Cuz I am not.) But because I know I will ultimately be disappointed as long as Mike Brown is the head coach of the Lakers.