Mike Brown wants what Phil Jackson wanted — the offense to run through the post. Not a Kobe Bryant isolation play or him coming off a high pick, but Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum as the hubs of the offense, standing at the high and low block.
Will Kobe buy into it?
Well, does he want to win?
Brown sat down for lunch with Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register and — while the lockout prevented him from talking about players — he reiterated that he wants the Lakers offense to go through their big men. Brown’s Lakers offense is going to look nothing like the LeBron James centered offense Brown had with the Cavaliers.
And whether you want to read a lot or a little into it, note this: 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.
First, Brown is right. No doubt Kobe was the Lakers leader, but what has separated Los Angeles in recent seasons — what took them to three straight NBA finals, winning two — was they had a long and skilled front line only a couple other teams could match. What wins in the NBA is size with skill (think about recent champions, Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, Kevin Garnett in Boston, Tim Duncan in San Antonio, the Lakers).
The Lakers size is their biggest advantage, and under Phil Jackson the Lakers were inconsistent in exploiting that. They got away with it because of Kobe. But when they went away from it was when they were vulnerable.
The real question is will the Lakers buy into what Brown installs? Will Kobe lead by example?
He has to if he wants to win, the Lakers don’t have a year to waste (we talked about this in our discussion of what the Lakers need to do when the lockout ends). This is a team with a handful more years with its championship window open, and there are young teams on the rise in this league. If the Lakers don’t buy in from day one, the season will be wasted. And they may not get another shot.
This is not just Kobe — he actually played better within the triangle than other Laker guards (Shannon Brown last season, Jordan Farmar in seasons before that). The point is the Lakers all have to be on the same page or it will not work. Phil Jackson could get them on that page.
We’ll see if Brown can.