It’s Mailbag Time…

Darius Soriano —  June 17, 2011

Time for another installment of the FB&G mailbag.  As always, if you’d like to submit a question, you can click right here and submit one to me with “mailbag question” in the subject line.  On to the questions…

Considering that Mike Brown is already considered a defensive specialist, would (Mike) Malone really have been that helpful on his bench?  I am more interested to see how Messina and Kuester reconfigures the offense.  Also, where do you think Brian Shaw will end up?  He deserves a gig somewhere.

While I agree that a defensive minded assistant coach doesn’t look to be the Lakers’ biggest need, I think it is also important to understand Mike Brown’s coaching style and how he constructs a staff. Brown has stated that he delegates to his assistants and preaches shared responsibility and accountability at all times (both on his staff and with the players). Malone was one of his key assistants in Cleveland and held a similar position with the Hornets this past season (where he’s directly credited with helping to improve that team’s D this past season). By all accounts he’s a very good coach and I’m of the mind that a head coach should try to surround himself with as many smart coaches that can teach the game as possible. So, yes, I think he’d have been a great hire and very helpful.

As for Shaw, I think it’s incredible that the man once tabbed as Phil Jackson’s successor could be out of work next season. He may not land on his feet as a head coach anywhere (as of now, only the Raptors, Pistons, and Pacers have vacancies), but I could certainly see him getting hired as an assistant somewhere. Maybe he goes to Minnesota and teams up with Rambis to help with the Triangle. That said, one of the obstacles that Shaw may be facing is the fact that he is so closely associated with the Triangle offense. I’m not an owner or a GM, but the Triangle is an offense that few have succeeded running at this level and can be seen as impractical to the way that many NBA rosters are currently constructed. Shaw may need to put in time on a staff that teaches other schemes to further prove that he’s a viable head coach in the league – especially with everyone’s fall from grace after the Lakers got swept out of the playoffs.

Do you expect Steve Blake to get better next year? Or do you expect him to stay the same/get worse?

I expect Blake to be better next season. To these eyes, Blake’s biggest issues were in aggression and in his comfort level finding shots within the Triangle. And while Blake played much more within the system than, say, Jordan Farmar, Blake never did find the right balance between getting his own and setting up his teammates. To be fair, playing with players the stature of Kobe, Pau, Odom, Bynum, and even Artest has the potential to neuter any players aggressiveness (i.e. passing to those guys always seems like the best option – especially if they’re calling for the ball). Plus, the Triangle is a system that’s nuanced and takes time to fully learn and get comfortable within.

But now that the Triangle is gone and a more “traditional” system is in its place, I expect Blake to better find his groove and thus produce better results. By no means am I saying he’ll be one of the better PG’s in the game, but I don’t think shooting better percentages across the board and increasing his assist totals are far fetched. I also think with better play he’ll receive more minutes and with that even more success will come.

Everyone quotes Michael Jordan’s Finals resume as being better than Kobe‘s. For my argument, let’s say Kobe gets his 6th in the next 3 years (highly possible, I’m hoping). People would point to MJ’s record of 6-0 being superior to Kobe‘s 6-2 (again, hypothetical). Wouldn’t Kobe‘s be better? Champion 6 times and runner up twice vs champion 6 times? (This ignores the finals mvp component, I see being a weak point in my argument.)

Normally I try to avoid such debates since they rarely get you anywhere. However, since we’re talking resume and not who was better, I’ll bite…

While I understand the argument of more Finals appearances, I think an unblemished record is a greater achievement. I also think scoring average matters, which Jordan has over Kobe as well. Plus, as you mentioned, MJ’s MVP’s in the Finals are the tipping point in this argument. So, I just don’t see an argument where Kobe’s Final’s resume is better than MJ’s even with another title to his name.

That said, by the time Kobe’s career is over, his overall resume could be very close to MJ’s. When you consider career points, All-Star game appearances and ASG MVP’s, All-NBA and All-Defense teams, games and minutes played, and the NBA championships, their careers will be closer than many would like to admit. I’d still take MJ’s league MVP’s and DPOY award as trump cards to Kobe’s accomplishments, but Kobe will have achieved so much that there would be debate from both sides, for sure.

That said, one of the reasons I try to avoid such conversations is because I try to appreciate the players for who they are/were rather than holding them up against the memories of other legends. When Kobe retires I’ll be lucky enough to say that I saw his entire career and cheered him on as he played for the team that I root for. Who cares if he compares favorably to another all time great? The fact that he’s in the conversation as one of the best that ever played is more than enough for me.

Darius Soriano

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