Why Brian Shaw Is the Right Man for the Philadelphia 76ers Head Coaching Job

Bryan ToporekFeatured Columnist IVMarch 1, 2017

Jan 21, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Indiana Pacers assistant head coach Brian Shaw talks during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. Indiana defeated Memphis 82-81. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

If the Philadelphia 76ers have any interest in salvaging Evan Turner and/or Andrew Bynum as potential franchise cornerstones, one man should stand above the rest in their search for a new head coach.

That man is Brian Shaw, who currently works as the associate head coach for the Indiana Pacers.

Shaw's pedigree gives him a distinct advantage in terms of credibility among players. He won three NBA championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s before retiring at the end of the 2002-03 season.

After working as a Lakers scout for a year, then-head coach Phil Jackson appointed Shaw assistant coach of the Lakers during the 2004-05 season. He remained on the Lakers' bench for the next six seasons, winning two more championships in 2009 and 2010, before joining the Pacers in June 2011.

His time spent with the Lakers, both as a player and coach, could prove invaluable for the Sixers.

Turner, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2010 NBA draft, hasn't panned out as the Sixers would have hoped. After the team shipped out Andre Iguodala in the August 2012 trade that brought Bynum to Philadelphia, Turner was expected to step into the Sixers' starting lineup and thrive.

Instead, the former Naismith Award winner only made incremental improvements in his third professional season. He'll become eligible for a contract extension in October, but he's given the Sixers little reason to offer him a big-money, long-term deal.

With Shaw as a head coach, Turner's well of excuses will finally run dry.

Both Paul George and Lance Stephenson have cited the time Shaw spent around Kobe Bryant, both as a teammate and a coach, as a major reason for their own improvement.

From the first day they met, George began asking Shaw about Bryant's legendary work ethic, according to USA Today. George peppered Shaw with questions such as, "How is Kobe in practice? Does he show up early and stay late? What's his game-day ritual like?"

Because of Bryant's stature among his peers, Shaw's answers resonated with George.

"If Kobe is doing it and he’s the best at his position, then why would [George] think that he’d be able to take time off from doing those same things that made Kobe so great?" Shaw said to SB Nation's James Herbert.

The 23-year-old George took those lessons to heart and emerged as a breakout star for the Pacers during the 2012-13 season. He took home the 2013 Most Improved Player award and has spent the month of May locking down a couple of guys by the name of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.

According to Herbert, Shaw called George into his office at the beginning of the 2012-13 season to show him the list of 2009 draftees who had already signed contract extensions. Shaw told George that he had to "put the pressure" on the Pacers to do the same, but "the only way that that's going to happen is you gotta be consistent and you gotta show it in your play."

That type of motivation could be exactly what Turner needs to turn his career around.

Stephenson, on the other hand, credits Shaw for helping with the on-court aspects of his game.

"He's motivated me," Stephenson told the New York Post in May. "My first two years, I couldn't hit [any] threes. [But] by playing with him in a little three-point game and getting with him and giving me the confidence to knock down big shots, he helped me a lot with the confidence in my jump shot."

That confidence helped him hit a back-breaking corner three-pointer at the end of the third quarter during the Pacers' Game 4 win over the Miami Heat in the conference finals. After the game, Stephenson told reporters that he and Shaw frequently practice those exact shots.

Turner knocked down 32 of his 84 corner-three-point attempts during the 2012-13 season (roughly 38 percent) after attempting a grand total of 40 corner threes in his first two seasons combined. The Ohio State product credited his improvement to him not practicing three-pointers anymore.

While the lack-of-practice method may have worked for one particular former Sixer, it's not your typical secret to success. If Shaw could help infuse Turner with even half of the confidence Bryant has in himself, it could result in Turner dominating like never before.

Shaw's connection with Bynum, meanwhile, is more obvious. He and Bynum spent six years together forging a player-coach relationship during their time with the Lakers.

In a January 2012 video from The Los Angeles Times, Bynum said that Shaw was a "great coach" who "worked a lot with him."

"Really, he just helped me out a lot before the game," Bynum said. "Getting ready, banging, and uh, working on the hook shots, things like that."

If the Sixers plan on committing to Bynum for the long haul during 2013 free agency, they could do far worse than hiring a head coach who's already spent years working with the big man.

Of course, the Sixers could decide to cut ties with both Bynum and Turner as soon as possible. Given the way both of their careers have unfolded in Philadelphia, it'd be hard to blame them for doing so.

If they're ready to give Bynum and Turner one more chance, however, they should be in hot pursuit of Shaw as their next head coach.