Why Mike Brown Couldn't Save His Job as Lakers Coach Before Crucial Homestand
Well, that vote of confidence certainly didn't last long.
According to Sam Amick of Usa Today, the Lakers fired their head coach after the team lost four of their first five games.
Lakers coach Mike Brown has been fired, USA TODAY Sports has learned - usat.ly/VN9aQ4— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) November 9, 2012
Surprised? I know I am.
Though Los Angeles was off to the worst start in the Western Conference, you got the feeling that he would be given more time.
But he wasn't, because he couldn't turn a $100 million product into an immediate winning machine.
And now, Brown himself, along with the rest of the Lakers faithful, are left to ponder where exactly it is he went wrong.
He Never Ditched the Princeton Offense
I'm sorry, but the time to ditch this offensive blueprint came and went awhile ago.
This overly structured blueprint also took the ball out of Steve Nash's hands.
Last time I checked, he wasn't brought to Tinseltown to showcase his movement off the ball—he was brought in to dominate it.
Toss in the fact that the Lakers are averaging just 19.6 dimes a night as a collective—eighth worst in the NBA—and it's clear the ball wasn't moving correctly within the system to begin with.
And if that's not enough, acknowledging that Los Angeles' 8.2 fast break points per bout are the lowest in the league should be.
He Never Put the Ball in Steve Nash's Hands
After only two games it became utterly apparent that the ball wasn't going to be placed exclusively in the hands of Steve Nash.
Which was a bad move.
Not only was the point man averaging a paltry 4.5 points and four assists through two games playing off the ball, but as previously mentioned, the Lakers transitional offense was non-existent.
Nash could've changed that. He could have also ensured that Purple and Gold's newest pieces thrived within the non-structure of a free-flowing offense.
Some things are just a given—like Eddy Curry emerging as the victor at a pie-eating contest-given—and putting the ball in Nash's hands is one of those things.
Just ask Mike D'Antoni. Or Amar'e Stoudemire. Hell, ask Marcin Gortat.
My point then?
Putting the ball in Nash's hands—even for just the first two games—would have saved Brown's job.
...Then He Never Put It in Kobe's Hands Either
Even within the Princeton offense, the scoring burden had unofficially been put on Kobe Bryant.
So why didn't Mike Brown make it official?
Bryant leads the team in points per game with 27.2 and would lead the entire league if James Harden didn't annihilate the competition in his first two games with the Houston Rockets.
Most notably, though, Kobe is shooting a career best 42.9 percent from behind the arc and 56.8 percent from the floor overall.
No wonder he wants to play until he's 40.
Plus, it also doesn't hurt that putting the ball in the Black Mamba's hands would have ensured he'd pass more. And when he balances passing with scoring, the Lakers win—Los Angeles was 22-10 last season when Bryant dished out five or more assists.
I don't care if Bryant is attempting fewer shots per game—16.6 to be exact—than he has in over 10 years. I also don't care that he's 34.
Because he's still playing 37 minutes a night and scoring at a rate above his career average.
And Mike Brown should have utilized that to his team's advantage more.
He Never Managed Playing Time Adequately
Long before Steve Nash was injured, Mike Brown was divvying up the playing time extremely poorly.
I understand the Lakers are thin and that starters must log heavy minutes, but when it came to bringing in the right players off the bench he failed miserably.
He relied too heavily on Steve Blake.
When Nash went down, Blake—who is posting 5.4 points and 3.6 assists in over 29.4 minutes per game—should not have been playing so much. Even when he was backing up Nash, Brown had better options.
He could have at least attempted to use Chris Duhon more. However, I'm primarily talking about Jodie Meeks, the combo guard who could have manned the point behind Nash and in his absence.
Sure, Meeks isn't off to the best of starts, but in all fairness he's averaging under eight minutes per game.
In fact, no player on the bench—except Blake—averaged more than 16 minutes per game.
Considering Antawn Jamison would have been more fit to run the point than Blake, that's a problem.
One that could, and should, have been avoided.
He Didn't Inspire the Team Defensively
Though the Lakers were in the bottom half of the league with points allowed in the paint per game at 42, that was merely a half a point more than they allowed last season.
Plus, Howard isn't doing too shabby a job of protecting the rim in the age where stretch forwards run rampant and he's left alone to man the interior—he's currently averaging 2.4 blocks per game and ensuring Los Angeles is outscoring opponents in the paint by 5.6 points a night.
The problem was on the perimeter, where Brown failed to inspire.
Not only was Los Angeles being outscored on the outside by a staggering seven points per game, but it was allowing teams to convert on 35.6 percent of their three-point attempts, nearly three percentage points higher than last year.
So no, that wasn't on Dwight. Scoring barrages like Randy Foye's were on Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake.
Most of all, though, it was on Brown, for not preaching more urgency on that end of the floor.
He Started Making in-House Enemies a Long Time Ago
Yes, we expected Mike Brown to have more time. We may even believe his sudden firing was unwarranted.
Yet it doesn't matter, because he wasn't fulfilling the needs of the Lakers long before his eventual exit reports Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD:
After the Lakers acquired Howard and Nash, several veteran free agents wanted to sign for the minimum so that they could compete for a championship in Los Angeles. However, Brown made it clear that he wasn’t going to expand his rotation regardless of who signed. This scared away the free agents and kept the Lakers from further bolstering their roster, which frustrated many players.
If we are to buy into those reports—and given the lack of subtly behind this firing, we should—Brown couldn't save his job because he lost the unconditional faith of the players before the season started.
Which means he lost his job a long time ago.