Byron Scott has been questioned as the Lakers’ coach for a lot of reasons. For using Kobe Bryant heavy minutes early last season, leading to health problems for the star. For using an old-school, dinosaur of an offense. For not using advanced metrics and analytics. For not developing players. The list goes on.
But he’s not being questioned — or at least doubted — by the one guy whose vote matters, co-owner Jim Buss.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in a couple different articles, Buss defended Scott and his job as coach.
“He has the Laker blood in him,” Buss said. “[Mike] D’Antoni and Mike Brown, they weren’t Lakers. They loved the Lakers and they tried their best and I think they’re both great coaches.”
“Having that history of the Lakers from the very beginning of when [the Buss family] bought the team, gives you such a family sense. He’s a coach, a brother,” said Buss. “He gets it. He’s a strong personality. He believes in himself and the Lakers.”
Laker blood? This sounds like the lines the late Al Davis used as the Raiders struggled — trumpeting some mystical bond in the organization over smart decision making.
Buss also said the Lakers are using analytics more than people realize.
“We’ve been using them for quite a long time. That’s basically [on] what I make all my decisions, is my own analytics.” Buss said the team has relied on an analytics staff for “six [or] seven years, but before that we were breaking down shot charts, everything we could get our hands on.”
What made the Lakers great for extended periods was not just that they had the resources of a big market (something the new CBA stripped from them to a degree), but also that they spent those resources wisely. They had the best coaches, they thought outside the box, they had a team identity then got players that fit it, they identified and went after talent before others caught on (trading for a young Kobe Bryant on draft day may be the best example).
The Lakers are rebuilding now and we’ll see over the coming years how their decision making works out with young players such as D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. What they Lakers have to show now — something that organizations such as Golden State, San Antonio and other elite teams have — is that the Lakers can develop those players. Do the Lakers have that infrastructure? Is Byron Scott the guy to do it? And what kind of team are they building, what is their identity?
The answers to those questions determine whether or not there is success. Not “Laker blood.”