Is Mike Brown Coaching Well Enough for L.A. Lakers to win an NBA Title?

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMay 18, 2012

DENVER, CO - MAY 10:  Head coach Mike Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers calls out a play from the sideline against the Denver Nuggets in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 10, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Lakers fans must have been nervous prior to this season as Phil Jackson, who had won five championships manning the helm in Los Angeles, chose to retire rather than return for another season.  He was replaced with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach and defense-first practitioner Mike Brown.  Given the embarrassing nature in which the Lakers' season had just ended, fans were surely looking for a quick turnaround.

However, was Brown the right man to bring the Lakers back to championship glory?  Keep in mind, this is the man who had reigning MVP LeBron James leading his Cavaliers squads for five years, and yet he still couldn't win a title.  On top of that, the same summer that James chose to take his talents to South Beach, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert chose to fire Brown and replace him with Byron Scott.

Thus, at least on paper, Brown seemed like a questionable choice to take over coaching duties on a team that featured large egos like those of Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.  Contrarily, he has done a fine job coaching the team and has done well enough for them to win another championship.

You see, Brown got an early Christmas present before the season even started.  Odom was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, so that's one ego gone right there.  The only other question marks were Bryant and the maturity of center Andrew Bynum.

Bryant is a scorer, so him taking more shots than necessary is going to happen, but the emergence of Bynum this season was just astounding.  Long considered to be an injury-prone head case, the seven-footer did not get hurt once and emerged as one of the most dominant centers in the NBA in a career season under Brown's guidance.  With Bynum and Bryant finally gelling, the possibilities for the Lakers are endless.

Furthermore, let's not forget that Brown also has talented players like forward Pau Gasol and bench shooter Steve Blake on his roster.  Even Metta World Peace showed flashes of his former self over the last month of the season.  He actually has a full team with which to work, so his true skills as a coach are just coming out.

Keep in mind, in Cleveland, Brown's roster didn't extend much beyond James.  He had the oft-injured Zydrunas Ilgauskas, an aged and broken down Shaquille O'Neal (for one year) and the always-inconsistent Larry Hughes.  Though he impressively took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, his roster wasn't exactly what one would call deep.

That all being said, Mike Brown is absolutely coaching the Lakers well enough to bring them another NBA title.  His roster may not be much outside of the starting lineup, but he has a team that has already won two titles together and knows what it takes to get that far.  Under Brown this season, they never lost more than three games in a row and emerged victorious in a season-long division battle with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Don't let the team's 0-2 hole against the Oklahoma City Thunder fool you.  Brown's Lakers are a sleeping giant that's about to wake up, and once that happens, the real game begins.  I'm talking about a game that ends with the Lakers in the NBA Finals and with another Larry O'Brien trophy.


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