Los Angeles Lakers

How Kobe Bryant Would Fix the Lakers If He Were Head Coach

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 02:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers sdrives against Matt Barnes #22 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on November 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Clippers won 105-95.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Kelly ScalettaFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

Step, for a moment, into an imaginary world where Kobe Bryant, out of his sheer competitiveness, manages to split himself into two people: the player Kobe Bryant and head coach Kobe Bryant.

What would Coach Bryant do to fix the muddled mess that is the Los Angeles Lakers?

Henceforth in this article I will refer to Coach Bryant and Kobe to distinguish between the two. 

 

1. Sit Down With Kobe 

Coach Bryant would never tolerate this. 

The very first thing he would do is sit down with Kobe and explain two things. First, this is absolutely Kobe's team. Second, that he, Coach Bryant, is the coach and he makes all the coaching decisions. 

Coach Bryant would understand Kobe's cooperation would be essential, but he would also understand that sometimes Kobe extends himself beyond his bounds and needs to be reined in—and that this tendency can cause friction on the team. 

Sometimes Kobe doesn't see the forest through the trees when he gets in games. Coach Bryant would be the best person to explain this to him if for no other reason that only Coach Bryant wouldn't be afraid of that glare.

 

2. Light a Fire

The next thing he would do is go all NCIS over Dwight Howard and slap him upside the head. And if Howard suggests Kobe should chill out Coach Bryant would give Kobe license to slap him upside the head again. Once he got Howard's attention, he'd have the rest of the team's. 

There is this thing called nuance which Coach Bryant seems alone capable of understanding right now. There doesn't have to be a choice between waiting for things to develop and hitting the panic button. 

It doesn't have to be one or the other. There are other options. For instance there could be concern, which would lead to working and trying to make things happen—as opposed to waiting for things to happen. 

You can be desperate without panicking. Bryant is desperate for a sixth ring. That doesn't mean he's panicking. The first thing he would do is instill desperation into the rest of the team. 

 

3. DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE!

Both Kobe and Coach Bryant would agree on one thing: You really need to play defense to win basketball games. The Princeton offense has gotten its share of attention for the Lakers horrible start but the defense has been awful, and inexplicably so. 

Yes, it is true that the pair of Steve Blake and Steve Nash are not the greatest defenders in the league. To be fair though, they're only giving up 21.8 points to opposing point guards, which is 21st in the NBA—not good but not dead last either. 

The problem is beyond just a single bad defender. The Lakers are 25th in defensive rating this year. It takes more than one or two bad defensive players to make that happen. The Lakers have two former Defensive Player of the Year Award winners on the team and a grand sum of about 1,283 All-Defense team selections. 

Frankly, it's abysmal that the defense is this bad. Coach Bryant would focus the next several practices on defensive schemes and fix that end of the court before worrying about the offense. 

 

4. Take Care of the Ball

The Lakers are turning the ball over on 17.5 percent of their possessions. There's just no way to win basketball games when you're doing that, especially when you're forcing turnovers on only 12.3 percent of your opponents' possessions.

Essentially that means the Lakers are getting five fewer possessions than their opponents every game. (Imagine a game in which your opponent gets the last five possessions. You'd see an eight-point lead evaporate into a two-point loss. Effectively that's what the Lakers are doing.)

Coach Bryant would impose some kind of Phil Jackson-Taoist-Zen trick to get the team to realize the importance of keeping the ball. A large chunk of the Lakers turnovers are just coming from being sloppy, and Coach Bryant wouldn't stand for that, not even from the team leader in turnovers, Kobe. 

 

5. Simplify the Princeton

If you thought I was going to say that he would get rid of the Princeton, think again. Remember this was his idea. I'm just not sure if what he's seeing on the court is what he was thinking of when he recommended it. 

Brown has tried to throw so many things into the mix that it's not really anything anymore, so it ends up just being a very confused kind of offense. 

The Lakers as a team are averaging just 73.6 field goal attempts per game, which is the fewest in the league. Part of that is because of the high number of turnovers, but another factor is the uncertainty surrounding the offense: There are times when players simply don't know what to do.

The Lakers offense is like someone took pizza, peanut butter cups and gumbo—all great on their own—and decided to throw them together to make something new. Some things are better left undisturbed. 

Sure, if you wanna add a little something extra to the gumbo, an extra topping on the pizza, or want to put your Reese's in your ice cream, that works. Tweak things, don't combine them. That's the point. The Lakers need to pick an offense and go with it. 

As far as what he would do the next day, I have no idea. 

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