The Lakers certainly are going to look different on the court when the NBA Lockout is over, but the biggest differences will be on the bench rather than on the court.
Phil Jackson finally ended his coaching tenure with the Lakers franchise after winning a total of five championships in 10 years. The Lakers may never see another coach like Jackson again, which may make things difficult for Jackson’s successor.
There are five new additions to the Lakers staff this upcoming season including head coach Mike Brown, coaching consultant Ettore Messina, and assistant coaches Quin Snyder, Chuck Person, and John Kuester.
This new core of the Lakers franchise will rely much more on a defensive-minded team, as opposed to the dominating offensive Lakers fans have grown to love.
Mike Brown is certainly one of the youngest coaches in the NBA to reach monumental success in his short career. In just five seasons as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brown managed to produce a winning percentage of 66.3% with 272 wins and 138 losses.
Of course Brown had LeBron James during his tenure with the Cavaliers, which would boost any winning percentage by some margin, but with the Lakers Brown will have a similar superstar in Kobe Bryant.
Brown, the 2008-2009 NBA Coach of the Year, brings a defensive mindset to the Lakers franchise, which is an area that the Lakers certainly need improvement. During Brown’s tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his team was considered one of the toughest defensive teams in the league.
The Cavaliers were in the top ten in defensive efficiency three times during Brown’s five-year career. This speaks volumes because his team was never explosively offensive, but their defense always provided them with the ammunition to be one of the top teams in the east.
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Even though the Lakers relied on their offense to win their previous two championships, they could have had an easier route if they stepped up their defense. Defense seems to be the key factor for any championship team, and Brown seems to have the right formula to improve the Lakers on that end.
The Lakers finished in the top ten in offensive efficiency eight times in the past nine seasons, and this could be accredited to the basketball expertise of Jackson. Unfortunately, the Lakers may have seen the last of this successful offensive system as Brown said during his initial press conference that they will not run the triangle offense.
Brown will utilize the system he used during his tenure as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs when they won a championship in 2003. This will be a mixture of relying on the two seven-footers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and also a “sprinkle” of the triangle.
This new offensive style may be the exact change that the Lakers need to dominate in this changing league of young and fast teams. Size is the advantage that the Lakers have against the entire league, and they missed out on this offensive opportunity many times last season. Hopefully Brown can change the Lakers habit of relying on Bryant to produce their offense, and turn toward their big men.
John Kuester has also had the opportunity to work with Brown in the past with the Cleveland Cavaliers, so their chemistry should be seamless. Kuester led the offensive system with the Cavaliers, so he will be instrumental in the Lakers transition from the triangle offense to a more slow-paced offense.
Kuester did not find much success as the Pistons head coach in the previous two seasons, as he only produced 57 wins for the Pistons, but hopefully his strong chemistry with Brown will bring energy to the Lakers roster.
Quin Snyder will serve as an assistant coache to Mike Brown, and he has had a wide range of basketball coaching experience. He has previously served as an assistant coach in the NBA for the L.A. Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, a head coach in the NCAA for the University of Missouri, and a head coach in the NBA minor league for the Austin Toros, in which he won D-League Coach of the Year in 2008-2009.
Snyder certainly brings a unique mindset to the Lakers franchise as he will integrate his college basketball experience within their system.
Chuck Person worked with Brown for the Indiana Pacers from 2003-2005, but most importantly, he served as a special assistant for the Lakers this past season. Person was hired to be an adviser, specifically for Ron Artest, as he had worked with him in Indiana, but he has served as an influential adviser among the rest of the Laker players as well.
Ettore Messina will serve as a coaching consultant for the new Lakers head coach. Messina is a successful and talented figure within the European basketball world, as he has won four Euroleague titles as a coach; two with CSKA Moscow in 2006 and 2009 and two with Virtus Bologna of Italy in 1998 and 2001.
Messina recently coached Real Madrid for the past two seasons but seeks a return to the NBA as a head coach. He previously worked with Brown when the latter was with the Cavaliers, as he helped him structure Cleveland’s offensive style, so he can certainly provide the Lakers a few European style offensive tips.
*Offensive and Defensive Efficiency Stats provided by ESPN.com