Mike Brown Talks, We Listen. But Will The Players?

Darius Soriano —  September 16, 2011

One of the ongoing topics of discussion this off-season has been what the Lakers offense will look like next year. The perception that Mike Brown isn’t the most creative tactician on that side of the ball has only fueled this discussion. Here at FB&G, we’ve discussed it from a variety of angles, others have broken down game tape, and Mike Brown himself has spoken on the issue.

Just today, in fact, Kevin Ding has a column from his sit down with Brown and again the new Lakers head man reiterated what his plans are on that side of the ball:

When talking about the contrasting offensive styles Brown will show from Cleveland to here, the new Lakers’ coach summarized the coming Lakers offense as feeding Gasol and Bynum inside, not being the Kobe show. “This team is completely different from what I had in Cleveland,” Brown said. “In Cleveland, I had a guy who liked to come off the top of the floor, liked to play in space and play pick-and-roll and make plays for others. Here, I’ve got two guys similar to what we had in San Antonio; you’re able to throw them the ball on the block.” It’s impossible to imagine Bryant not getting his, however, and if the baseline for Brown’s Lakers basketball is going to be the passion and work ethic, though, Brown and Bryant will get along just fine.

This is nothing new, and ultimately doens’t require much analysis. Brown understands that a major strength of this team is his big men and he wants to use them as such.

To which I say: great. I think we can all understand that and welcome the philosophy.

However, this isn’t anything different than what Phil Jackson preached last year (and the years before that during both his stints as Lakers’ coach). And we all saw how that worked out as Lakers’ guards highjacked possessions by either hoisting long jumpers without even sniffing a post entry pass or manipulated the motions of the triangle to get the ball into the hands of other players not named Gasol or Bynum.

And this is the real issue that will need to be tackled. Coaching philosophy is the first thing I look for when evaluating if a person is a good fit for a team. But it’s the ability to get through to the players; for the players to buy into what the coach is saying that ultimately matters most.

This isn’t a swipe against Kobe Bryant, necessarily. Yes he had a league high usage rate and that’s something that will need to be addressed. But if you put Lakers’ offensive possessions from last season under a microscope you’d see plenty of Shannon Brown dribbling between his legs before pulling up for a long two pointer or Derek Fisher barrelling down the lane to try a scoop shot against challenging big men. This is to say nothing of Ron Artest or Matt Barnes’ shot selection (both were sometimes too quick to fire up the open jumpers that were available to them).

My point being, there were many culprits who contributed to the disjointed sets the Lakers ran last year. And if Mike Brown is going to rework the offense into one that goes inside-out it’s not the X’s and O’s that matter as much as his ability to connect with the players to get them on board with what he’s saying.

Team success is the result of many factors coming together. Talent is obviously needed but unless that talent is on the same page and working together the chances of getting the most out of the roster diminishes. The Lakers have the talent part covered. Where they’ll need Mike Brown most is in putting it all together in order to get the most out of his guys.

I love that Mike Brown is enthusiastic, is going to work hard, will preach accountability, and that he’s got plans to run an offense through is big men. But I’ll love him most if he can get his guys to buy into everything he’s saying. Because ultimately, that’s where his success is going to come from.

Darius Soriano

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