Mike Brown's Lineup Experimentation Step in Wrong Direction for L.A. Lakers

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Mike Brown's Lineup Experimentation Step in Wrong Direction for L.A. Lakers
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

There's a wave going through Los Angeles in the past few days as Mike Brown is suddenly realizing that Kobe Bryant has played more minutes than anybody in the NBA not named Kevin Garnett or Jason Kidd.

It's a good strategy by Mike Brown that Kobe should play fewer minutes, even if it's going to ultimately hurt their team.

With Kobe Bryant off the floor so far this season, Los Angeles has shot an extremely poor 36.9. It's only four games, but that's such a huge difference in efficiency that it's stunning.

The real story isn't that the Lakers are going to limit Kobe's minutes (we'll see how long that actually lasts), but how they're going to fill his roll when he's not on the court.

It would make sense to bring in Devin Ebanks or Jodie Meeks whenever Kobe's off the floor. But instead of one of the young guns, Brown is apparently moving closer to filling that open shooting guard spot with Metta World Peace.

Just think about that for a minute. You're taking a guy who isn't afraid to shoot, but isn't particularly good at it, and putting him in a position that, historically anyway, is the source for a big portion of his team's points.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Let's take a quick look at where World Peace has played over the past few seasons. He's mostly at the small forward spot, but when the Lakers went to experiment with their lineup, they moved him up, not down.

In each of the past four years he has played a chunk of time at the power forward spot, but he saw zero minutes at shooting guard.

Not only that, but you're putting World Peace in a position where he'll have to chase around younger, faster guards, putting him in a bad spot defensively. He's still a good defensive player, but he's relying more on speed than physicality. If he gets picked, most of the shooting guards in the league are going to squirt free and run to the hoop.

I'm normally a huge fan of lineup experimentation, but I've got a few huge theoretical problems with this.

The NBA is trending towards smaller guys playing more minutes at traditionally "bigger" positions. It makes sense to counteract this by playing a few big guys, which the Lakers have done with Gasol and Howard, but the thought isn't to make your entire lineup huge.

Harry How/Getty Images

The lineup that Brown is proposing isn't big, it's enormous. He wants to run a lineup that either contains four forwards or three forwards and a center. Not only that, they're playing two, three or even four guys who are 32 or older. The only youth in that lineup would be either Howard or Hill, and they've got big man speed, which isn't exactly "run the floor" speed.

Brown is contemplating fighting the young, small, fast lineup with a lineup overloaded with old, slow, big dudes.

What makes it even worse is that Brown can't argue it's a "defensive" lineup if Jamison, a guy who has evolved into the worst regular defensive forward in the league, is involved.

With Nash, Howard, Gasol and Kobe, this is a lineup that begs for some kind of intervention and experimentation, but what Mike Brown is proposing is so counter-intuitive that its chances of success seem almost impossible. 

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