Fans and analysts alike have consistently panned Mike Brown as a coach. When Brown was coaching the Cavs, we heard that his offense wasn’t creative and that he’s not a very good X’s and O’s guy (at least on offense). Now that Brown is coaching the Lakers, we’re hearing that anything less than a Lakers triumph in the first round is cause to fire Brown.
This is ridiculous.
Since the Lakers won, Brown’s job is now “safe.” But just in case this idea rears it’s head again (and it will), here’s why it’s so resoundingly stupid to fire Mike Brown after one season:
1. It’s a shortened season. A new coach must be given a chance to install a system that maximizes his available talent, and Brown hasn’t had that chance. He’s never had a full training camp, nor most of the practices a team usually has during the season.
2. The Lakers have no spacing because they have no shooters. Contrary to popular belief, coaches don’t score points. If the Lakers had any sort of reliable perimeter shooting outside of Kobe, they’d be a heck of a lot better. The thing is, Blake, Barnes, and Metta World Peace (MWP) are below average 3pt shooters who can go on bad shooting streaks that last weeks at a time. It’s pretty tough to have an elite post game if you don’t have perimeter shooting, because the defense will double the post players without it.
3. Bynum is too immature to be counted upon. We’ve all seen what the great Phil Jackson managed to accomplish with just Kobe and a bunch of role players – it was disappointing. Yet no one called for firing Jackson. Today, we have Kobe, a bunch of role players, and then Gasol and Bynum. While I’ll get to Gasol in a minute, the problem with Bynum is obvious: He’s immature. Chronically so. No coach should be penalized for Bynum’s knucklehead behavior and inconsistent effort, where Bynum is a star one day and a role player the next.
Some people might say that Brown’s job is to “motivate” Bynum, but this is bullshit. You can’t motivate stupid, and Bynum is just about as stupid as someone can be when you consider his wealth, inflated ego, and status in one of the world’s biggest media markets. Bynum is impossible to motivate externally – the best Brown could do is refuse to play him until he “shapes up,” but I doubt that would help L.A. win more games. If anything, Brown should get credit for extracting more performance out of Bynum than the great Phil Jackson managed to get a year prior.
4. Gasol is a duplicate player. I think Gasol is getting a bad rap for his play in L.A., mostly because he’s being asked to play out of position. When the Lakers played their best in years past, Gasol was a starting center. Now that Bynum has begun to emerge, Gasol is being asked to play PF. In today’s NBA, many starting PFs are “tweener” guys who can often move and/or shoot like SFs. Gasol would be better off playing at the 5, where his lack of speed and agility wouldn’t be such a problem on defense.
This is true on offense as well – Gasol’s strength is his unique combination of post play, passing, and shooting. Yet his post game is an afterthought most of the time (Bynum gets all the good post looks), and Gasol’s passing isn’t generating points because LA has no shooters. This means that the only way Gasol can contribute is to be a jump shooter, and that’s just not a good use of his talents. Gasol needs to be traded for a quicker PF as well as a guard that can shoot.
5. Scoring is down because the pace is slower. I think the more casual fan looks at the Lakers lower scoring totals and assume that Brown is doing a poor job. However, the Lakers play at a much slower pace this year, so scoring is lower.
6. Jackson’s coaching shoes are impossible to fill. Brown is following one of the greats, and while comparing him to Jackson is natural, it’s grossly unfair. Jackson was absolutely a better coach than Mike Brown, but Jackson was also better than most or all of the coaches in the NBA. Brown is doing fine all things considered.
The problem in LA is the roster, and that’s not Brown’s fault.