The Cavaliers Couldn't Have a Better Coach Than Mike Brown
Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry focuses on more than star power to surround LeBron James. He focuses on who's the perfect fit.
Ferry, often criticized for not surrounding James with enough, has been able to find players suitable for helping James without the risk of giving out a Gilbert Arenas or Elton Brand-sized contract.
In Cleveland's first and only Finals in 2007, James wasn't surrounded by players who fit well. The frontcourt of Zyndrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden, although not very effective, was the team's strong-point. The backcourt was even worse, led by the injury-prone Larry Hughes and the aging Eric Snow.
Although Cleveland missed the Finals this year, they have a much better team, winning 66 games over the 50 they won two years ago. The backcourt has the range and the depth to free up space for James, and LeBron may have a good enough second option, Mo Williams.
The greatest improvement of the team has not been a player, but coach Mike Brown. Despite winning Coach of the Year this season, Brown is still disrespected. Rumors, although they're quickly dying, of the Cavs finding a replacement for Brown are quickly circulating.
Brown is only 39, he's never played a minute of NBA action, he looks more like an accountant than an NBA coach, and his only rings come from being a Spurs assistant coach. Even so, the Cavaliers are better off with Brown than the guy who was named a Top Ten Coach in NBA History.
Even with less experience than Riley, Brown is developing into an incredible coach.
In his first four years, the Cavaliers have a record of 211-117. No team in the past four years has been that good under the same coach besides Greg Popovich's Spurs. And Popovich is the one who guided Brown in the NBA.
The Cavaliers haven't only succeeded in the regular season. They have won seven rounds of the postseason. When Cleveland is eliminated, you can rarely say that Brown was out-coached.
In his first year, the Cavaliers lost to the Pistons in seven games in the second round. The Pistons had arguably the best starting five in the league.
After that, he took Cleveland to the Finals where Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs. Although Brown is partly to blame, the Spurs were a team with three all-star caliber players with many championships and a coach who taught Brown everything he knew.
In Brown's third year, the Cavaliers were the only team to take the champion Celtics to seven games and it took an overtime Game Seven to make the Cavs go away.
Cleveland was expected to make the Finals in the 2009 season but lost in the Conference Finals, and you can't say Brown wasn't a part of the downfall. He couldn't motivate most of the players enough.
However, one year doesn't ruin what he's worked for.
Although Brown coached his worst series this past season, the Cavaliers didn't improve just because of the Williams addition.
The Cavaliers ranked No. 1 in defense, giving up 91.4 points per game. There isn't a single player on the team who hasn't improved defensively under Brown.
James learned to be an elite helping defender, finishing second in Defensive Player of the Year voting after his defense was criticized a few years ago. Anderson Varejao finished 13th. Even Ilgauskas and Wally Szczerbiak look good under the system.
Although some would describe the relationship of Brown and James to be one where Brown doesn't interfere with James, Brown has made him into a better player. Not only James has improved, but it's hard to find someone who hasn't.
The number one reason why the Cavaliers would fire Brown is to bring in an elite coach such as Riley. But why should they get an elite coach when they already have one?
James has one year left on his contract. They could keep Brown and have another winning season. A new coach could jeopardize the team's success and make James less likely to re-sign.
Riley has coached losing teams before and who knows if the complex system of team defense and offense around James would remain as effective with any other coach?
Brown isn't the best coach in the NBA, but he's the best coach that the Cavaliers could have.
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