When some of us argued that Brian Shaw was the best coach to take over the Lakers after Phil Jackson left, the reasoning was simply that you don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.
The Lakers are still (theoretically) in a championship window. They had been playing the triangle for years and while not all the players in the locker room liked it the roster was largely built to run it. Kobe Bryant fit well in it. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum could work well in it. No other system really fits Derek Fisher anymore.
But Jim Buss wanted to put his stamp on the organization, so all things Jackson were out and in came defensive minded Mike Brown. And the Lakers are playing good defense — even after the Heat ran all over them the Lakers are sixth in the NBA in points allowed per possession. Problem is they are 19th in points scored per possession. Even when Kobe goes off, the Lakers offense is pretty average.
You get what you ask for, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reminds us all.
But the same reasons I gave for lobbying the Lakers to give Shaw the job in May remain valid: The Lakers’ motivation for this season was already there from wasting last season, and they could’ve been set up to do everything they already knew – just better – with renewed hunger, the same triangle offense and a healthier Kobe Bryant.
By choosing Brown, the Lakers embraced massive change, which is generally a very good thing only when things are already very bad. We are seeing now just how rough the ride has to be in starting from scratch.
“It’s under construction,” Kobe Bryant said late Thursday night of Brown’s offense. “Still working on the blueprints, actually.”
The good news for Lakers fans is that the Lakers are playing good defense so far this season. If they had done that last season maybe things turn out differently. The other reason for optimism is that as they play more games and the season wears on, they will start to figure out the offense more and how to exploit mismatches. The Lakers could and should have dominated the Heat in the paint on Thursday, but they didn’t set up scoring chances in there well enough or often enough. The result was a thumping.
When you start things over from scratch, you get some of those. It’s what the Lakers ownership asked for.