Jerry Sloan: Pick-and-Roll Offense a Perfect Fit for Lakers' Nash and Howard

Kelly ScalettaFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2012

Feb 4, 2011; Denver, CO, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan reacts in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Three names, Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan and Mike D'Antoni have popped up the most as the possible next head coach of the Los Angles Lakers after Mike Brown was fired today. Each of the three has their strengths, but the best of them is Jerry Sloan. 

Phil Jackson has more rings that fingers, literally. When you start ordering toe-rings for your championship rings that means you've done something right and you probably aren't going to go wrong with that. If Chris Sheridan is right, and Dwight Howard wants him, that's another feather in his cap. 

Steve Nash has a pretty illustrious history with Mike D'Antoni which includes exactly twice as many MVP awards as Kobe Bryant (and every Kobe Bryant fan will tell you that at least one of Nash's should be Bryant's but that's a topic for another article). 

Yest, there are reasons to have Jackson or D'Antoni, but if the goal is to get the best possible man  to coach the particular group of players the Lakers have, the smart-money should be on Jerry Sloan.

There are four criteria that the next coach needs to meet and only Sloan meets all four. 



Part of the problem in Los Angeles is that everyone is so afraid to stand up to Kobe Bryant and/or scare off Dwight Howard that they won't tell them what to do. As the man who once challenged Karl Malone to a fist-fight during a team huddle (according to Malone), I don't see Sloan backing down to Bryant or Howard. 

I don't even think the stare of death is going to intimidate Sloan. 

I think there's also going to be a grace period that the players give their new coach when he comes on board and that the concerns over scaring a certain 6'11" cookie monster are a tad overrated. If the Lakers really want to keep Howard, hire a coach that will win a championship. 

Few coaches in the league (and yes, Jackson would be one of them) command more respect than Sloan. D'Antoni is not one of them.

There's a certain risk with Kobe Bryant not wanting Jackson too. Has anyone else noticed his conspicuous silence on the subject?

Pass the Test: Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan



The Lakers starting five are really, really old. Do you want to know how old they are? Four of the five played games against Michael Jordan. How much more do you need to say about that?

Mike D'Antoni once tried to shoe-horn Eddy "The Doughnut Eater" Curry into a fast paced offense. He's about as flexible as a steel pole in the winter when it comes to slowing down his offense and as much as Charles Barkley wants to say this offense should push the ball—it's not the right offense. 

They need a measured, calculated, efficient half court offense and two of the best ever at this are Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson. 

Both Jackson ad Sloan have consistently coached some of the most efficient offenses in the NBA over the last 20 years. During Sloan's career he was exactly neutral with the Jazz averaging the 15th fastest pace in the NBA.

During Jackson's stint with the Bulls they were 25th in pace. During his two stints with the Lakers they ran a faster pace, but that just shows he can be flexible. 

Both Sloan and Jackson have established they can run a measured offense. 

Pass the Test: Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan

Effective on Both Sides of the Court

All three coaches have established that they have can coach on offense. All three have led the league in offensive rating at least twice in their careers. However only Sloan and Jackson can make the same claim on the defensive end of the court. 

In fact during the 1997 season Sloan's Jazz and Jackson's Bulls were the two most efficient teams int the league offensively. Jackson's Bulls were first. They were also the most efficient defense. The following season Sloan's Jazz was the best offense. They led the league in defensive efficiency in 1989. 

D'Antonio has never had a a defense that finished higher than 13th, and has only finished in the top half of the NBA only once.

Pass the Test: Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan

System Best Fits the Players

This is the test that only Jerry Sloan passes. When we think of the pick and roll, we shouldn't think that there's only one way—the D'Antoni way—of running it. The way that Jerry Sloan ran it made superstar point guards too. You might have heard of John Stockton for instance? Before Stockton was Ricky Green, who was the Jazz career leader until Stockton and Malone came along. 

After Stockton there was Deron Williams. 

But with Stockton and Williams it was always out of the set offense. That's why Stockton was able to play for so long. He didn't have to endure the kind of abuse that Nash took under the D'Antoni system. 

Sloan has an offense which is more of a flex offense rather than making use of the pick-and-roll. It utilizes the kind of ball movement Bryant wants to see, would take the pressure off him, and at the same time do so without forcing anyone to make major changes to the way they play their game. 

It would also utilize the great passing skills of Pau Gasol as well as his pick-and-pop ability, Howard's pick-and-roll ability, Nash's floor generalship and Bryant's improved efficiency in catch-and-shoots off the screens. 

It's the perfect offense for what the Lakers have. While Jackson could probably tweak the triangle, Sloan wouldn't have to tweak anything. 

Passes the test: Jerry Sloan 


When you factor in the four different criteria only Sloan passes all the way down. Jackson would still make a solid choice as he passes all but one. D'Antoni would frankly be a mistake as he passes none of them.