Lakers Look To Add Talented Coaches, Just As They Have With Players

Darius Soriano —  August 17, 2012

It’s been a summer of change for the Lakers. In all, they’ve added 6 new players to the roster and that’s not even counting the two draft picks chosen in June. Beyond adding talent that will have an impact through playing, however, the Lakers are also looking to bolster their coaching talent. Kevin Ding has the scoop:

It hasn’t exactly been a secret around the NBA that Lakers head coach Mike Brown has been courting Eddie Jordan to join his staff as an assistant coach. The official hiring of Jordan, who played for the Lakers in 1980-83 and ’84, is expected to occur in the coming days — and Brown will be hiring longtime NBA sage Bernie Bickerstaff, too. The Lakers are also adding Steve Clifford to their staff. Clifford has been an Orlando Magic assistant — with Dwight Howard — since 2007. Before that, Clifford was with the Rockets and Knicks.

Adding coaches of this caliber certainly makes the Lakers a better team. All of these men have a great deal of experience, have won (or helped win) their fair share of games, and will give Brown more teachers to help mold the team into one that can reach the goals they set.

In Jordan, specifically, they’ve locked down the man that will surely have a big hand in shaping the Lakers’ offense next season. Jordan is a Princeton Offense disciple, learning at at the foot of the great Pete Carril while serving as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. Since, he’s helped develop the offense with the Nets, Wizards, and 76ers as an assistant and head man to varying levels of success. He’ll now be asked to bring that offensive expertise to the Lakers.

The offense, in general, has a lot of good principles that should aid in the success of this Lakers’ group.

First and foremost, the offense brings back a read and react system that will enable the Lakers to better diversify their offensive attack. The Lakers should be better able to counter what the defense is trying to take away and thus produce good scoring chances even if a first option is taken away. This was something the Lakers struggled with a great deal last season, especially when defenses crowded the paint to take away their post options.

Second, the offense should provide the team with a bit more balance. Too often last year, the Lakers sets were run for one of two options: either to create a shot for Kobe or to create a shot for one of the Lakers big men. While this approach can’t really be argued with — after all, you want your offense to be built around your best players — the Lakers over reliance on shots to be created by these players left the team struggling to generate quality looks when a set break down. If Kobe was denied his initial pass and pushed out beyond the three point line, if Bynum was fronted, or if Pau couldn’t make a clean catch at the elbow the Lakers went into scramble mode and their sets got disjointed quickly.

Third, there are simple strategic measures an offense like this one brings that will help immensely. By bringing back a two guard front the team should achieve much better floor balance, aiding in their transition defense. The two guard front also aids in floor spacing, naturally allowing more room to operate. Spacing and floor balance also aid in player positioning in general, translating to good offensive rebounding chances, better passing angles, a stronger ability to read the floor and where defenses are trying to help from, and countless other facets of offensive basketball that can be the difference between getting a good shot or not on any given possession.

Of course, there’s still a question of how the players the Lakers have on their current roster fit into this offense.

Kobe and Pau are natural fits for this offense. Gasol especially so with his ability to play in the high or low post, his innate feel for passing, and how he instinctively reads a defense and can move into the proper positions to counter. Kobe, with his history in the Triangle, also has strong foundation for success in this O. He reads defenses well, makes smart cuts off the ball, and his all court game translates to being able to play in a two guard front, on the wing, or even shift to the high or low post depending on need.

Pau and Kobe aren’t the only key players on`the Lakers, however. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard must also fit into these sets. To be honest, though, I’m not that concerned. Nash can fit into any offense you put him in. He can be a shooter and floor spacer regardless of what offense the Lakers run and his ability to work in isolation from the top of the floor will still have value in this O. As for Howard, he too can play in the high or low post based off the strength of his ability to turn, face, and then beat his man off a quick drive to the rim. Plus, Howard is a good passer out of the post due to all the double teams he’s faced over his career. Both players have enough skill and variety in their offensive games to fit in just fine and their ability to finish plays playing off the ball will be of great value.

All that said, it should also be noted that the Princeton offense has enough flexibility to allow these players to freelance as well. In watching tape on the Kings teams that gave the Lakers such fits a decade ago and the Nets teams that went to back to back Finals in that same era, there were countless possessions where those teams went to pick and roll sets, wing isolations, and straight post ups in order to generate good shots. The Lakers did the same thing under Phil Jackson when running the Triangle offense. If you want a more current example, look at the Minnesota Timberwolves in how they run their offense.

Rick Adelman’s “corner offense” has many of the same principles of the Princeton O (remember it was Adelman who both Jordan and Carril coached under in Sacramento). With the Wolves, Adelman runs countless pick and roll actions with Ricky Rubio at point guard, utilizing his ability to break down the D off the dribble and create shots for himself or his teammates. Rick has cleverly integrated principles of his offense  into more classic sets that optimize the talents players like Rubio and Love bring to the floor. Jordan and Mike Brown can do the same with the talent they have at their disposal next year.

And, in the end, this is what I expect from the Lakers in the coming season. The beauty of having an offensive system rather than simply running sets or plays is that a team has a foundation to lean in trying times. However, with the talent the Lakers have at their disposal, it’d be silly to think they won’t take advantage of individual mismatches in order to score points. Some nights that may mean featuring Gasol in the post. Other nights it will certainly mean a pick and roll heavy attack between Nash and Howard. Other times it will mean going to Kobe on the wing and letting him create in single coverage.

The Lakers are blessed to have several players that are difference makers on their own or in tandem. However, with the hiring of Eddie Jordan, the Lakers look to also be bringing in a system that they can rely on to help them be efficient on offense without having to rely on that talent to produce. This will help the starters, but also the bench players score when needed. It will give all the players a foundation they can build on throughout the season to be the offensive machine they hope to be.

There will definitely be an adjustment period. Not only from the standpoint of implementing the new system but in meshing the players that will need to run it effectively. But in moving towards this system the Lakers look to be getting back to a style of play that has led to multiple championships. And it starts with the addition of some very good coaches to work in tandem with the great players they’ve already brought in.

Darius Soriano

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44 responses to Lakers Look To Add Talented Coaches, Just As They Have With Players

  1. darius: this is great news….and your analysis insightful and uplifting to laker fans concerned w/the coach brown stigma: can he coach offensively?

    seems the front office is pulling out all the stops here.

    although and probably against nba rules, would like the coaches and players to start doing some walk throughs at some local ymca so you can write about it and we can keep the laker torch burning and the drums beating and the streamers streaming and the banners bannering (if there’s such a word) all the way down figueroa street thru to next june.

    In a nutshell,

    Go lakers !

  2. I’m excited to see what this team of coaches can put together and execute with the players with a full training camp. Cant wait for the season to start!

  3. When Nash made a surprising decision on July 4th followed by a sacrifice on salary by Jamison then Howard finally arrived to the Lakers fold, there is just too much pressure nowadays from MBrown to Kobe. Last night, we saw Aaron posts that Kobe needs to do so many things – to pass that ball, stop being a hero, produce, defend etc. Latest pressure to Kobe is coming from ex-future wife, Vanessa, she said: – “I certainly would not want to be married to somebody that can’t win championships,” It is like saying if you want to sleep in the same bed with me, you should be a Champ.” Wow, what a life one more challenge to Kobe. From Aaron to Vanessa, they’re not too keen on that gold medal in the Olympics, no sweat. lol!

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2012/08/kobe-vanessa-bryant-cant-win-championships/1#.UC6VZqDvjdI

  4. It would be fun to see a 20-20-20-20 game. 20 points for Kobe and Pau, 20 assist for Nash and 20 rebounds for Howard in one game. It’s definitely a long shot but it could happen on a perfect night against lets say the warriors or kings.

    But the key to this group will be versatility in their offensive attack. That’s what made the lakers so good in their last two championship seasons. They could hurt you in so many ways and even the bench had huge games every now and then. The last two years the bench was non existent, no three point shooting which allowed the teams to back the paint and forced Kobe to go one on one way to often.

    This year they’ll have a deadly pick and roll attack with nash and everybody except world peace. They have dominant post attack, good perimeter shooting if ebanks and metta can shoot at least around 40%. and still Kobe to isolate and nash create when things bog down.

  5. In Rick Adelman’s offense the PF seems to be the first option and the key guy, at least statistically. Webber was an absolute monster always above 4 assists every year. What position is most important in the Princeton offense?

  6. darius: one more thing, seems someone in the laker front office is a huge fan of forum blue and gold.

    anyone else think that?

    Go Darius !

  7. “Since, he’s helped develop the offense with the Nets, Wizards, and 76ers…”

    Ehhhhh.

    How’d that work out, again?

  8. I cannot wait for the season to start, and am already thinking about the playoff match ups.

    As versatile as this team is, I am still a bit concerned about the lack of speed on both ends of the floor, particularly against faster teams like the Heat, Nuggets and Thunder. Nash will be matched up against quicker players like Westbrook and Lawson. Gasol will be matched up against Faried, Ibaka and Battier. Artest will be matched up against Lebron and Durant. Kobe against Iguadala, Wade and Thabo.

    Bosh and Battier’s outside shooting may keep Howard and Gasol out of the paint, and the team may have issues rotating quickly to shooters, even with Dwight on the team.

    When the Lakers are on offense in the playoffs, or sooner, I expect defenses to consistently trap Nash or Kobe whenever they initiate the P&R with Dwight, taking away the team’s most lethal option. Defenses will also likely pack the paint, limiting the cuts to the basket that the Princeton offense is known for. With the zone rules, the Princeton offense will be easier to game plan for now compared to the days of Chris Webber and the Kings.

    It will be up to the coaching staff to make the adjustments to offset the team’s lack of speed. This season’s playoffs will be about size versus speed and who can make the open shots….but coaching might play the biggest role.

  9. I’m excited for January 17th, vs. HEAT.

    Excited to see how much damage we can do to the Heat inside/outside with newly acquired outside shooting (Nash/Jamison/Meeks) and the addition of Dwight (if Pau/Dwight pair works out, watch out Miami’s weak front-court). To top it off, Kobe could be the middle-ground that balances it all out, with his killer mid-range jumper and somewhat unheralded post game.

    If Miami goes small with LeBron at the 4, I’d like to see a Nash-Ebanks-Kobe-Metta-Dwight line-up, with Metta doing the dirty, and some help from Kobe and Dwight.

    Also, I’d like to see Kobe play some 3.

  10. Never liked Bernie Bickerstaff. I find him to be too excitable. Career record as a head coach? 414-512. Meh.

    Eddie Jordan has a head coaching record of 257-343. At least he has some Laker roots as a member of the 1982 Championship team.

    The other guy, Steve Clifford is an ex- Orlando Magic assistant, as noted, and as such probably comes with the Dwight Howard seal of approval.

    Question: Is Chuck Person still on the Lakers’ coaching staff?

  11. By no means am I calling for Mike Brown’s head, but I think there’s another coach Brown out there that would probably be the best bet to squeeze a ring out of this group.

  12. Aaron from the other thread:

    If you were expecting anything more (than P/R defense) you will be disappointed.

    ___

    Howard is also a better finisher on the P/R than Bynum is, as the Synergy numbers show, that were posted here. And now, of course, Howard is paired with Nash.

    Since Aaron likes Simmons, I will remind him that Simmons said that Howard is a like “CGI robot” that some one designed to play with this team. Craig W has this right: Howard is a better fit than Bynum, (and he is also a better player).

  13. Avidon – To be fair, Mike Brown needs to be given a full season to assess if he has any future with this team. I am no Mike Brown fan, but even I think he will be given this entire season to show what he has.

    Absent any major injury to this group, one thing is for sure, if he rides the starters as hard as he did last season – and misses the NBA Finals, I think he is gone. But we are 10 months or so away from that determination.

  14. X’s and O’s are secondary, I think, when it comes to a team like this with so many very talented and experienced players. There are some young guys who may benefit from some system coaching, but this team is going to go as far as the chemsitry between the starting 5 and main rotation guys will carry them. I’m seriously hoping that Mike Brown can channel his inner Phil Jackson. From what I saw last year he does at least play the media right and inspires guys like Jordan Hill to come in and sieze the moment. Let’s hope there’s more of that in him.

  15. @ #10 – I as well am not so impressed with these hires as really they all have coached pretty weak teams except for Jordan’s days with Sac Town, which could have just been Adleman.

    As for us expecting to just walk over teams like the warriors – they got a lot better, and I think so did the suns, wolves, kings, blazers and nuggets. The west isn’t the eastern conference with cakewalk teams the whole season will be a test with our division being one of the better ones and hopefully we can end up #1 overall so we only see 1 to 2 hard teams in the playoffs. I think with the rest compared to last season it would be worth it to gun for number 1.

    As for playing the Heat – what about Dwight on Lebron and Pau on Haslem or Bosh if they go small.

    This would still give us Metta to play Wade and Kobe could play Battier making all of our defenders stronger and taller than their counterparts.

    From the Mitch picture we all saw that Howard is basically just a bit bigger than lebron but has higher weight and equal athleticism and speed and this would eliminate Miami’s stretch offense while messing up what they want to do because of Howards length on defense messing up lebrons passing lanes.

    Also Vnessae Bryant released a statement that those comments were taken out of context – just BS media hype don’t look into it too much

  16. Darius -
    Great post. The Princeton offense is a system that, like the Triangle, starts with an opening move, reads the defensive response, then reacts to their weaknesses. As you mentioned, the starters have enough IQ and experience to succeed. The question is: will they buy into the system enough and continue to listen to Brown when times are tough?

  17. Did Phil Jackson ever relent so much power to the other assistants? Mike Brown’s clout is going out the window the more coaches he brings in to teach things he can’t.

    Whatever he does he has to be committed and have the players believe in what he’s selling. I know some fans aren’t buying.

  18. I agree with Manny on Brown. It is important to remember that adding Meeks and Jamison, while retaining Hill (and Sessions) would not have been a terrible off-season.

    But the Lakers added Meeks and Jamsion, kept Hill…

    …and got STEVE NASH AND DWIGHT HOWARD. It still hasn’t really sunk in for me.

    So, Brown needs, barring injury, to run a team that is, even with age, as good as any in the NBA. But without the bench adds and Hill, the team would have been very thin. The bench isn’t great, but it is decent, so he should not have any excuse for overplaying the starters.

  19. I like Simmons? I think he is funny but I don’t think he is an astute observer of talent. Six years ago he was one of the few who knew the difference between the overrated players (Love) and the underrated players (Aldridge). But now… Not so much.

  20. I think he is funny but I don’t think he is an astute observer of talent

    —————–

    You have spoken positively of Simmons on many occasions. I think Simmons is a pretty good judge of talent but he is too biased to be a decent analyst.

    He is, however IMO mostly correct about how well Howard fits the Lakers.

  21. Why don’t we just run pick-and-roll all day? We had something special with the Kobe-Pau P’n’R, that we uncorked when the situation called for it. Now we have Kobe-Pau, Kobe-Howard, Kobe-Nash, Nash-Howard, Nash-Pau and Howard-Pau.

    That’s 6 different P’n’R options. Just keep switching between the 6 for all 48 minutes!

  22. Not sure Pau-Howard pick-n-roll is a good idea.

  23. Everclear

    Good point!!!

  24. Everclear –

    Well, he did have two finals appearances with the Nets, spoiled by our fantastic Shaq/Kobe duo in the early ’00s. He was the lead assistant on that team. You can give credit to Eddie J for the fabulous offensive production the Nets had (albeit in a weak Eastern conference), or you can give all the credit to a prime Jason Kidd and HC Byron Scott.

    Jordan coached the Wiz to playoffs. They had their best record in 20 years under him. Again, in the Eastern conference, and that team was a chucker’s heaven.

    He only survived one season as coach in Philly. I don’t know if that says something about him.

  25. Do you think the Kobe fans in China are following FB & G? I doubt, because Darius has no Chinese edition. If they do, they would not react in this manner:

    http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/sports/2012-08/16/content_15680730_2.htm

    Once the chinese fans get hold of this site, they’d follow the lead of Aaron – Olympian Love is overrated and Kobe is too old @ 33.

  26. Kenny,

    The Gasol/Bynum pick-and-roll was arguably one of our most effective plays last year. It can only be better with a roll man of Howard’s caliber, especially since we stand to have better spacing this year with Nash at the forefront. Needing both bigs to defend a 4-5 pick-and-roll is a nightmarish proposal for any defense.

  27. @26, Ben R, Exactly.

    Gasol has the handle, Howard has the foot speed.

  28. For the Aabot’s, Kobe haters and Hollinger disciples:

    “Haters are people who broadcast your failures and whisper your success”

  29. @25, Edwin Gueco:

    If you thought that was impressive, check this out:

    http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2012-08/71848589.jpg

    (Via KamBros at ESPNLA)

  30. I apologize for doing this. On the last thread Aaron said Denver swarmed Andrew Bynum. Yeah they did in games 2 and 3 but eventually they weren’t. Javale McGhee out played Bynum in that series. I am confused how people can compare Bynum to Howard. Maybe its a west coast thing. I watched Howard the last 2 seasons and anyone who thinks Bynum is in Howard’s class is dreaming. Howard is heads and Shoulders a better player. smh, people comparing a guy who takes 12 secs to cross the timeline in the 3rd and 4th quarters to Howard. madness!!!! Bynum in going to be in for a Rude awakening in Philly. His team is built for speed while he is slowest center in the league.

  31. MB: All last year, when people bashed him, I always stayed somewhat neutral. I have never been a huge advocate, yet neither did I blame last year’s woes on him (it was a talent issue). This year is different. We are fielding the best team and it is time for MB to produce. We should have the best team both on offense and defense. Speaking of defense. We need our best players to step up. D12 needs to be the monster DPOY; Kobe needs to be All NBA; and MWP needs to be 2nd Team All NBA. In all three cases they need to focus on this and do it. They are all capable. I am especially calling out KB on this in that he needs to recommit to the defensive end and others will follow.

  32. @ 25 Edwin Gueco, thank Goodness the Chinese have a better educational system. They would laugh at the likes of Aaron when reading his comments. Like I told someone the other day, Lionel Messi is considered without question the best player in the world, however if Football (soccer) was a mainstream sport in America ESPN would have said Ronaldo is better cause he is bigger.

  33. If you haven’t noticed:

    1. How good is Jim and Mitch? They turned Bynum, a trade exception, a vets minimum and a couple low level first round and 2nd rounds picks
    to:
    Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Jamison and Jodie Meeks. Are you freaking kidding me. That was Jerry Westesque like offseason.

    2. As for Bynum, if he gives that same half a$$ effort he did in La, he’s going to get creamed in Philly. Good luck drew.

    3. People questioning Kobes “selfishness” and his ability to mesh with a ball dominating guard like Nash is what a typical Kobe hater would say. Let me remind everyone, Kobe has the best basketball I.Q in the game and it’s not even close. He’s going to make it work. Stop questioning his greatness.

    We got this. Lakers over Heat in 5. Y’all heard it first.

  34. Robert,

    Good post, but I disagree with the idea that the Lakers should have the top D.

    MWP–14th year
    Pau–13th year
    Kobe–17th year
    Nash–17th year
    Jamison–14th year

    In addition, Nash and Jamison have never been good on D.

    This is why getting Howard was such a big deal.

    That said, you are right in that Brown needs to get the team to play D and have good schemes. He has said he is a D coach, and the FO continues to hire O guys to help him with the O, Person, who worked a lot with the D, is gone. Brown needs to get the D to be effective and manage the personalities
    –two things Phil usually did well.

  35. Incredible comments to a good article… I am mesmerized by the sheer intelligence of the bloggers on FB&G …

    Can’t wait for the season to start! Go Lakers!!!

  36. Jesse P in the other thread:
    Convenient how you left out “Kobe is no longer the best player on our team…” from my previous post, rr.

    ___

    That really has nothing to with the point I was making. Kobe’s USG and EFG last year were in part a result of the lack of talent around him. Kobe doesn’t play basketball on an island and visit the other four guys on the floor in his helicopter from time to time.

    The talent around him has changed and been upgraded enormously. Basically, even if he wanted to play the exact same way as last year, he couldn’t–any more than Howard and Nash will be able to. Howard is for the first time playing with an elite 1, elite 2 and another big-time low post player. It is going to be very different for him, for Nash–and for Kobe.

    That said, there are going to be times when KB shoots the ball with a hand in his face. It is, for better or worse, part of his game. But it will be far less important than the team’s age, health and defense–no matter how often Henry Abbott, John Hollinger and Beckley Mason tell us that it isn’t.

  37. As pointed out by Lt mitchell, we need to have answers to quicker players like Westbrook, Lawson and Parker and i might suggest if we can bring Leandro Barbosa onboard. maybe the lakers can waive Earl Clark or even Steve Blake to cover up for the salary of Barbosa. i think with his caliber he can guard those speedy players and even provide some scoring punch. we also need to develop Ebanks to play more tough defense to help Metta control Lebron, Durant and the best players of each team but of course with the help from Kobe who is still a terrific defender. we may also motivate some of our young players like duhon, morris and others to develop more on their defense so that everytime there will be a swarming defense to the scorers of the opposing teams. i know its not easy but it can be done especially with our roster of talented coaches.

  38. Just waiting for the asst coaching situation to finalize, but too many cooks spoil the broth,especially if the team starts losing close games. Still not sold on the backup PG`s who will have to play 18-20 min. Philly with Bynum and shooters starting to look like Orlando with Howard.

  39. When Brown meets with his new coaches, I really hope that minutes per game for starters will be right at the top of the list. To keep those numbers down, they need to consider complex rotations geared to specific opponents that involve as many players from the Laker roster as possible.

    To do this, I envision subunits of “specialists.” For example, I’d like to see a young bench mob used from time to time as a unit for a change of pace. I’d like to see Earl Clark used to defend tall quick SF’s, and Duhon to defend fast pg’s. I’d like to see Hill used as part of an offensive rebounding group. I’d like to see Meeks, Jamieson, and Nash used to combat zone defenses.

    I’m sure that there are more and better possibilities that will emerge from our new deep brain trust.

  40. @rr

    Person is still on the coaching staff.

  41. “LAKERS FOR THE WIN”
    BANGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Very informative post, can not wait to see the offense in action this season.

  43. @pinoylaker20

    No offense, but suggesting that Barbosa, one of the league’s worst defensive players, has even a hope of staying in front of the players you mentioned is a fantasy. Mind you, practically no one can do so, but Barbosa of all people has no chance. At least Nash has a reputation has a decent team defender and has no one in his career who can cover for his mistakes. Barbosa has been outright terrible throughout his career. Look at last year’s playoffs: he was so bad on defense that Frank Vogel could barely play him against Miami, who exposed his deficiencies on that end practically every time he was on the floor.

  44. I may be blaspheming a bit here, but what about having Jamison starting at the four and having Pau as the centrepiece of the bench? Correct me if I am wrong, but Princeton is much akin to Motion offence, and running a ’4 out 1 in’ set gives the space Howard and Gasol need without asking either to play too far from the basket (though Gasol would be quite comfortable, having Howard facing the basket near the three point line is a bit of a stretch). It’s not as if the entire bench will be subbed on, but Jamison’s mid range/stretch four skill set will complement either centre (to my mind, Pau is still a centre); how devastating would it be for defences to have to face a 7 foot, skilled big man off the bench? That said, I am so amped for the season to begin, the very thought of having Kobe curling off a down screen to the weak side elbow/low post after a Nash/Howard P&R is giving me goose bumps!!