Mike Brown: Could He Actually Work out as Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach?

Charles BennettSenior Analyst IJuly 17, 2011

Mike Brown's tenure with the Lakers won't be all gloom and doom
Mike Brown's tenure with the Lakers won't be all gloom and doomKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The dominant storyline about the hiring of new Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown is that Brian Shaw should have been hired instead. Because he was a Lakers assistant. Because he didn't coach LeBron. Because Kobe wanted Shaw.

People critical of Brown often bring up the Rudy Tomjanovich debacle of a few years ago, which was really a perfect storm that was more a question Rudy T's health problems and the Lakers changing four of their starters from 2003-2004 to 2004-2005 than any questionable hiring practices.

In trumpeting Shaw, they seem to forget the "success" that Kurt Rambis, the last Lakers assistant to land a head coaching job, has had (32-132 and fired). They also forget that if Brown is going to have any longevity with this team, he will coach it after Kobe has hung up his sneakers, and that Kobe is now well past his temper tantrum years.

Here are three reasons why the Brown hire will work.  

Head Coaching Experience

If you look at the teams that make it to the NBA Finals, the last NBA finalist whose coach was in his first year of NBA coaching was the 1991 Lakers under Mike Dunleavy. The last first-year head coach to lift the O'Brien Trophy was Pat Riley in 1982. In both cases, these teams were heavily talent-laden and led by Magic Johnson (note that when I say first year of coaching experience, I mean anywhere, not just with the present team).

Although the Lakers made it work then, it appears experience counts more heavily now, as very few coaches have even been able to lead their team into the playoffs in their first season of head coaching—Tom Thibodaux being the most notable exception. Brown, who is younger than Shaw but still has more coaching experience and much more head coaching experience, fits the experience mold.

And lest we forget, Brown was 272-138 in Cleveland, which is nothing to shake a stick at.

Defensive Specialist

Although the Lakers were ninth in points allowed per game, that stat belies the many defensive lapses the Lakers had throughout the season. They would continually allow teams to get back in it, or put the Lakers out of it, by sloppy miscues in the third and fourth quarters. This was exacerbated when the people the Lakers had signed to be lockdown defenders, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff, got hurt. 

Brown will likely make these defensive lapses fewer and farther between, which can only help the Lakers.

Player Development

Wait, player development? It's debatable as to how successful Brown was at molding young players around LeBron. Despite the fact that the Cavs won, players like Mo Williams did not see an increase in stats under Brown when compared with previous coaches and teams. 

However, Brown is still an improvement over Phil Jackson, who has repeatedly admitted he does not attempt to develop young talent, and whose teams are built on signing and dealing for veteran play. 

If Brown is sticking around town, he will have to skipper a post-Kobe Lakers team under a more restrictive salary cap that will probably have to rely on player development to be successful.