Replacing a legend is never easy, but this season thus far has been somewhat of a success for Lakers head coach Mike Brown.
The coach has managed to keep the Lakers competitive, and more importantly he has developed Andrew Bynum into a possible great player or one piece of spectacular trade bait. Either way, Brown has gotten more out of Bynum than Jackson ever did and that’s a testament to the former Cleveland Cavaliers coach's ability.
The Lakers have managed to play tremendous defense throughout most of the season and have avoided looking, shall we say, “Golden Girlish.” Coming off the heels of being swept out of the playoffs, few knew what to expect out of the squad, and the results so far have been welcomed. But, this is not to say that Brown does not have his work cut out for him.
The head honcho must win at least one playoff series to be taken seriously next season, and the Lakers must advance much further if he is to be considered a championship coach. In order to get to that level, Brown most “outcoach” some of the game’s best, and right now the San Antonio Spurs' head man Gregg Popovich leads the pack.
Here are three ways Brown can announce his coaching presence with authority against the San Antonio boss.
The Lakers are one of the few teams in the league that have two quality low-post threats. Brown must find a way to utilize their “high-low offense.”
They must maximize their possessions and force the Spurs into foul trouble.
The Spurs are relatively small, and outside of Tim Duncan, they don't have a low-post defender worth mentioning. A slow, drag-down pace with emphasis on the post would put Duncan in foul trouble and open up the paint for L.A. to flourish.
The Spurs shoot the three ball exceptionally well and the Lakers have been decent defending the three ball all season. Statistically, the Spurs are third in made threes and ninth in three-point shooting percentage.
The bulk of their offense is generated from threat of the three ball. Brown must pound into his troops to get their hands up at all times. Although it sounds amateur, this will give the Lakers more opportunity at deflections and will force the Spurs to have to pass over L.A.
Moving San Antonio off of their sweet spots will only happen if the Lakers have their hands up and in the passing lanes.
It will be imperative that Brown instructs players to run the Spurs off of their spots and force all action to the paint.
Brown must attack Parker on BOTH ends of the floor. When the Spurs' speed demon has the ball, the Lakers must double and not play coyly. L.A. is not equipped to handle the guard man-on-man, and a zone would allow the Spurs open space, which the Lakers can't afford.
So they must double the ball and play Parker the length of the court.
Here is where Sessions must earn his keep. The point guard is a defensive liability, but he does have speed. Brown must impress upon the young man how imperative it is he just stay with Parker. Sessions just needs to stay with him and allow Barnes, Artest or Bryant to be the second man. The Lakers will have to switch it up based on score, ball location and personal.
However, they must force the ball out of Parker’s hands, and the only way to do that is to double and trap him early and often.