Mike Brown, Lakers Should Stick to 9-Man Rotation

The Lakers are now a defense-first team, which is fine, but they still need to put the ball in the basket on occasion. They’ll only make things easier for themselves if they can develop consistency in getting the ball to the big guys down low, and creating opportunities for themselves by swinging the ball and cutting to the basket when Kobe gets double-teamed. Integrating the Lakers lineup with the roles described above, you have:

Scorers: Bryant and Pau Gasol. They’re both the 1 and 2 options, respectively, for the Lakers. Yes, Andrew Bynum will get plays called for him on occasion, but the primary scorers have to be the two best players and both guys fit that bill.

Ball handler: Here’s where it gets tricky. The Lakers don’t have a true point guard that can run the offense and handle the ball the majority of the time. If you modified it and split the ball handling time between Kobe/Fish, and Kobe/Blake, it could work. The problem is when Kobe has the ball he has to find the perfect balance between Kobe the aggressor and Kobe the facilitator. If he sways too drastically in one direction, the rest of the team’s offense stands a chance to be stagnant.

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One perimeter defender: Metta World Peace. Okay, so he’s lost a step against the NBA’s elite, but this is the role he was brought to the Lakers for, and it’s somewhat of an area of expertise for him. He might as well flourish in it or at the very least try. My guess is, once the team develops the chemistry by implementing a tighter rotation, his primary focus will be defending against the top scorers in the league, and on occasion putting up some points.

One rebounder: Andrew Bynum. But hey, why would it need to stop there? The Lakers have the benefit of a second 7-footer, and both do a significant amount of work to collect rebounds—the Lakers wouldn’t be first in the league in that department otherwise. Bynum will get the bulk of the rebounds, both on defense and offense, but having both is a benefit for the team.

Off the bench: Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Troy Murphy. All of these guys are high energy, and have been overall productive for the Lakers. Blake and Barnes seem to work well together, while Murphy is probably the Lakers most consistent spot-up shooter not named Kobe Bryant.

The half man: Andrew Goudelock. Partly for development and partly because his tear drop is so nice, Goudelock fits in well with the rotation described, and the rookie would be content to play 0-10 minutes per game, depending on matchups and foul situations. He’s a shooting guard in a point guard body, hasn’t quite developed his ball-handling, but so long as Blake stays healthy, he can focus on doing what he does best at the moment—spot up treys and tear drops.

There are plenty of benefits to running a tight rotation, consistency and cohesiveness being one, the other is that the starters would average around 36-38 minutes per game, which is about the league standard. That is except for Fisher who at this point should be splitting time rather evenly with Blake, and depending on the opponent Brown can decide who gets the call at the end of the game. In the shortened season, the guys may get fatigued, but at this point, the Lakers don’t have much to lose and most importantly, not that much time to waste. Seeding may not be of the utmost importance right now, but you don’t want to get into a 7-game series with a super athletic team right off the bat either.

Of course, this all sounds great in theory, but in practice, night in and night out you really never know for certain if it’s going to work. For all we know, last night could have been an anomaly. The Lakers have been lethal at home, (14-2) and the Trailblazers have a comparable record to the Lakers on the road (5-11). However, not changing up the lineup would still be better than whatever the Lakers were doing before, which wasn’t anything consistent anyways.

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