Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thoughts on Mike Brown as New Lakers Coach

[Contrary to what you may believe, I have interests outside of my job, academics, economics, and even Mandy. This post is about to show that.]

I am not a Lakers fan. Period. If I had to pick a NBA team to support, the Los Angeles Lakers would rank amongst the last teams I would pick. Why? I like to cheer for the underdog and the Lakers always seem to be the top-dog. As a fan of basketball though, I am curious about all sorts of shenanigans NBA teams, coaches, and players get themselves into. Often their decision-making skills are quite laughable (e.g. drafting Kwame Brown) and other times admirable (e.g. trading Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol). I believe the Lakers' decision to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown to be of the former sort.

The immediate reason is that Mike Brown's abilities have been grossly exaggerated during his time as the head coach of the Cavaliers. The reason? Why no other than a certain superstar named Lebron James. The impact of Lebron on the entire Cavaliers team was about as important as one player can ever become for his team. Just look at how far the Cavaliers dropped this past season -- from having the NBA's best record a year ago to one of its worst. Everyone knows that Lebron can play, but his impact should not be underestimated on the coach either. I am 100% that the Lakers would not have hired Mike Brown had Brown stayed on for another year in Cleveland, to coach the Lebron-less Cavaliers.

Based on my observations (I like to watch NBA games every now and then), Mike Brown is not as competent as analysts say in, say, his defensive schemes. Solid defense requires personnel and Brown's team had it because everyone knew their roles very well. Everyone knew that Lebron is the "man" of the team; he was someone who exceeded in his weak-side defense. As good as Lebron is good on offense, his defense is better -- the past Bulls vs Heat showed just that, when Lebron guarded Derrick Rose. Both Brown and the Cavaliers relied so much on Lebron that the team imploded when Lebron supposedly "quit on his team" during last year's playoffs. Good coaches make the necessary adjustments and learn to live without its star players (just look at the Houston Rockets). Cleveland's loss reflected on just how poorly prepared Mike Brown was.

But more than his abilities, I fault the Lakers the most for the extravagant pay package they offered to Mike Brown. $18 million total for 4 years? That is a ridiculous sum, especially since Mike Brown was unemployed last year. Brown is no Phil Jackson, but is an unproven coach now that his best player is playing elsewhere. All the high pay package does is set the bar even higher for Brown to hit which, according to my prediction, he will inevitably not hit.

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