Why Nate McMillan Can Succeed Where L.A. Lakers Coach Mike Brown Failed

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 10, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 15:  Head coach Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on February 15, 2012 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In one of the most controversial moves of the young 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown (via USA Today). The decision was made after the star-studded Lakers began the regular season with a stunning 1-4 record.

Although some view this move as premature, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak offers a clear explanation behind the reasoning for the sudden firing (via Los Angeles Times).

After five games, we just felt that we weren't winning. We made a decision. Maybe it would have changed a month or three months down the road, but with this team we didn't want to wait three months and then find out it wasn't going to change.

And that's the bottom line.

Had the Los Angeles Lakers waited two-to-three months and found out that the Princeton offense was working, they'd be pleased. If the Lakers had gone through that period and discovered that the system was failing, however, the hole they would have dug for themselves may have been to deep to climb out of.

For that reason, the only logical move was to depart from their current situation and restart their future.

In the hours since Brown has been let go, many have speculated as to who could replace the previous. From theories of past coaches taking over to speculation over current-day assistants, there has been no rest for the wicked.

According to Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Phil Jackson and Mike D'Antoni are top candidates. Jackson is even being reported as "open" to a third stint with the Lake Show.

But how about Nate McMillan?

Now, this is not to suggest that McMillan is the best man for the job. The likes of Jackson, Jerry Sloan and Brian Shaw deserve that label before we even consider another name.

What McMillan brings to the table, however, is worth exploring. Here's why.


Defensive Mindset

From 2005 to 2012, Nate McMillan was the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. From 2008 to 2011, the Blazers were one of the Top 10 scoring defenses in the league.

In 2009 and 2010, they ranked within the Top 5. That is exactly why McMillan is the breed of coach that the Lakers need.

For those concerned with their offensive output, don't be. Their offense will be elite regardless of their approach, as Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are all world-class players on that end of the floor.

D-12, however, is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year that is being misused.

Howard is not being placed in schemes that maximize his shot-altering abilities. He's also not receiving the perimeter support necessary for a team to become elite as a unit.

If anyone could change said fact, it's coach McMillan.


Familiarity with Kobe Bryant

Why does Kobe Bryant shoot so much? Try this on for size.

Entering the Lakers' 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers were shooting 42.8 percent from mid-range with Kobe on the floor. The league average is 34.4 percent.

When Bryant is on the bench, however, the Lakers are shooting 6.7 percent from mid-range. No, that was not a misprint.

With Kobe Bryant on the bench, the Los Angeles Lakers are shooting 6.7 percent from mid-range.

Why is this significant? Because Bryant is quite familiar with coach McMillan. The two spent time together with Team USA, where McMillan spent time an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski.

As a result, McMillan will know exactly how to utilize Bryant when he's on the floor and compensate for his absence while he rests. Although this isn't Team USA caliber talent, McMillan has done this before.

Has anyone ever heard of Brandon Roy?



According to Synergy Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers have run just two pick-and-roll plays all season for Dwight Howard. Should Nate McMillan be hired to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, you can expect that to change in a major way.

Let history offer evidence.

When McMillan coached the Portland Trail Blazers, he made LaMarcus Aldridge into the star he is today. Coach Mac was able to achieve said feat by pairing Aldridge with point guard Andre Miller and create an elite pick-and-roll offensive attack.

He also got shooting guard Brandon Roy involved, thus making the Blazers one of the most dynamic offenses in the NBA.

With the Lakers, one can only expect that McMillan would find even greater levels of success. Steve Nash would lead the way, while Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard would provide McMillan with two elite options to game plan with.

The difference between Brown and McMillan is that the latter would properly utilize Gasol and Howard to their fullest abilities on both ends of the floor. Upon doing so, the Lakers would become a legitimate championship contender.

Which they should have been from the start.


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