By Dennis Berry
Mike Brown was named the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. When the news broke the reaction about the hiring was not all positive. Fans and media seemed to slam the hire. The Lakers hiring Mike Brown is an excellent move.
Just look at the numbers.
In five seasons as a head coach in the NBA his career record is 272-138. His teams won division titles two times. He won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2009. His teams went to the playoffs all five seasons. The played in two Conference Finals and advanced to the NBA Finals in 2007.
Sounds like pretty good numbers. One would think most fans would like to see those stats with a new coach. Without knowing the coach, they probably would. Unfortunately Brown's time in Cleveland is viewed as a disappointment rather than a success.
The last time we saw Mike Brown was in the 2010 playoffs. The Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals. He was let go just over a week after being eliminated by Boston.
So why does making Brown the Lakers head coach make sense?
Unlike in Cleveland where he only had James as a proven scorer and a bunch of role players, Brown will inherit a core of veteran players. You have Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Kobe Bryant. Those are enough pieces for Brown to build around; but the Lakers need to address the roster to improve depth and defense.
Defense is what Brown is known for and that is what the Lakers need to improve. They struggled down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs were no match for the Dallas Mavericks. When Brown was in Cleveland, the Cavaliers were a top ten defensive team every year. They were in the top 10 in scoring defense all five of Brown's seasons and top ten in opponent's field goal percentage three of five years.
Brown is also used to dealing with a superstar playing. Coaching LeBron James for five seasons should prepare Brown for Bryant.
Known as perhaps the most competitive player in the league, it should be a good sign that Bryant knows that the Lakers need to improve on defense. If Bryant and Brown connect, it will be another step towards a successful stint for Brown in L.A.
The Lakers organization can help Brown be successful. They need to look into adding depth and make the roster younger and quicker. Last season the Lakers looked slow on defense and could not keep up with younger players. They also need to find a back up in the post for Bynum and Gasol. Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff are not going to get the job done for them. Fortunately for Brown the Lakers are an organization that is committed to winning. They have proven in the past that they make trades and spend money on free agents in order for the team to win. Throughout the history of the franchise, they are not afraid to go out and get the best players available. It also does not hurt that Los Angeles is a city that players want to play in.
There is no doubt that the pieces are there for Brown and the Lakers to be competitive right away. What remains to be seen is if Brown can take what is left of a Lakers Dynasty and try to guide it to one more championship run.
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