Byron Scott To Coach the Lakers?: You Better Hope Not

Joe GerrityCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 11:  Head coach Byron Scott of the New Orleans Hornets watches the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on November 11, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Hornets 124-104.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

So as most of you know Byron Scott was fired as coach of the Hornets fairly recently. Even more than most NBA fans, Laker Nation was probably a little confused, bewildered, and even angered at the firing, given that as a player he was one of your own.

Anyway, there has been constant speculation over the last few year as to who will replace Phil Jackson when he eventually retires from coaching. The buzz around Byron seemed to get a little louder when he was fired, with many Lakers fans claiming the Byron was simply the scapegoat of an organization in disarray.

Many of you actually WANT Scott to be your next coach.

I’m sure when looking at his coaching resume you point at the two NBA finals appearances in only ten years as a head coach. You might mention his [undeserved] NBA coach of the year (makeup call for CP3 not being the MVP). Maybe you will even show me his all time record of 33-24 in playoff games.

What you definitely won’t point out, or may not even know is…

His Horrible Track Record Developing Young Players

Sure you can point at CP3 and give credit to Scott, but that’s really taking a leap of faith considering his otherwise futile past. Let’s look at recent selections under his tenure as Hornets’ head coach and what happened to them.

Let’s also look at how great a job the Hornets scouting department has done over the years. It’s a shame that Byron ruined this young core for them.

2004, #18, Earl (JR) Smith

This promising high school player was drafted with the full knowledge that he was young and immature. That’s what you get when you draft kids from high school. Byron Scott, coaching a horrible team, let him play almost the whole year (in part due to injuries at the guard spots which left them severely depleted). He ended up averaging 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

The next year with the trade for Speedy Claxton and the drafting of Chris Paul, the backcourt had a lot more depth which allowed Byron to do his thing and put him in the doghouse.

In January 2006, Smith learned why Scott isn’t a good coach. Despite shooting 37% from three for the year on over 140 attempts, he saw just 17 minutes over a 21 game stretch from March extending into May.

He was playing harder on the defensive end, grabbing more boards, getting more steals and shooting more efficiently from everywhere than in his rookie season (where he saw time regardless of how he played), yet Scott saw to it that the 20 year old received awful publicity. It was rumored that the Bulls didn’t even want him in the trade that sent Tyson Chandler to New Orleans and essentially confirmed when Chicago shipped him out without ever playing a game in red.

Sure JR was young, insane and full of energy. Today he’s more mature, still insane and still full of energy. Nearly every basketball stat available shows that he’s a contributor to the upper cusp team in Denver. Last season he was a big part of the team that knocked Byron’s Hornets out of the playoffs.

JR was only the second high school player ever taken by the Hornets. The first, your very own Kobe. Would you want Scott touching any high school prospect after the way he treated JR? It seems that Scott just wasn’t aware of the talent that he had since he just tossed him on top of an already done deal. Byron just didn't want to coach him anymore.

2005, #4, Chris Paul

Now I realize that Paul is awesome, but is there anyone who thinks he would have sucked in Atlanta or Utah? I have a hard time giving Scott credit for Paul since he never had to really mold him. CP3 was NBA ready coming out of college and he backed it up by winning ROY. Scott just grabbed on (like he did with another PG, Jason Kidd) and rode the coattails.

I do wonder what Scott would have done had Paul struggled early like his counterpart Deron Williams did in Utah. Would Scott have shoved him in the doghouse or worse yet, traded him away?

2005, #33, Brandon Bass-

Now I’ll admit, not many thought Bass would turn out as well as he did, but come on. Byron saw him daily for years and he couldn’t figure out that Bass was a player? He barely even gave him a chance on the court despite the Hornets’ frontcourt woes.

He played only 400 minutes in two years. In 2007 he was sitting behind Hilton Armstrong, Marc Jackson and the famous Linton Johnson, still seeing almost no time.

In total he played 50 games for the Hornets over two years averaging a hair over eight minutes per game. His PER? Around an eight with Byron.

At age 21 Bass was thrown aside by the Hornets and found himself on the Dallas lineup where he managed to double his minutes per game en route to career highs in points, rebounds, shooting percentage, blocks, assists and steals. His PER rose to a then career high 16. Since then it has only gone up.

The decision to let him go was simply idiotic considering that Ryan Bowen was brought in to replace him. Now I know some of you will point at the GM for that one, but you know that GM’s and coaches talk about players. If Byron said he wanted Bass (who signed for next to nothing with Dallas), Bass would have been on the team.

Apparently Byron thought that then 31 year old Ryan Bowen was a better option. He backed it up by playing Bowen (a joke of an NBA starter) 12.5 minutes a game for a whopping 53 times. That’s more than he played Bass the two years prior. Why give a 31 year old stiff more time than a promising rookie? The only reason is that he had no idea that Bass would be good. His lack of foresight is a bit of a trend as you may have noticed.

2006, #12, Hilton Armstrong

Now Scott has certainly given Hilton a chance, but why? He never showed much potential in the NBA, is a foul machine, plays lousy defense and sub par offense.

During warm ups he shoots three pointers while giggling like a school girl. During timeouts he watches the cheerleaders dance, rarely even glancing at the coach. In his three years he has show no improvement at either end of the floor, yet Scott continued to play him.

My best guess is that it’s sort of like a “make up call” for messing up on Bass so badly. What’s unfortunate is that Hilton never demonstrated the same potential that Bass did in his limited minutes. Another example of Byron having no clue what he is doing with young players.

2007, #13, Julian Wright

This is a guy who slipped down the draft board and into the Hornets’ laps. They were a solid team, but obviously lacking athleticism from the wings. He was regarded by many analysts as the “steal of the draft”. Scott started out by barely playing him until December when he averaged 13 minutes a night as a reliable bench player.

Then out of nowhere Scott put him in the doghouse. His minutes dropped to only 1.4 per game in January and February. He missed 17 games entirely without injury.

Then in March and April, Scott unexpectedly put him back in every game for an average of 12 minutes throughout the playoffs, until game seven versus San Antonio in which he inexplicably didn’t see a single minute despite the lack of energy on both ends that the Hornets showed.

Then in the summer Byron totally went against everything intuitive about a 6’6, high energy, low basketball IQ player and gave him heavy minutes at the point guard position. Oddly enough Scott stuck with it throughout the summer regardless of how counterintuitive it seemed. The result was a confused young player, unsure of his role.

He regressed through the next year, seeing two minutes some months and twenty the next. With an uncertainty regarding his actual position and future with the team, Wright seemed to just hang in limbo, waiting for someone to tell him what he was supposed to be doing. The decision to make him a PG in his first full summer in the league was simply damaging to the young player.

What made things even stranger is that some games he would start and see 30 minutes and then a week later he would be inactive. It’s like Scott couldn’t decide which of his rash decisions was worse. Either way he was admitting to himself and the team that he had no idea what Juilians role should be. This a player that he was supposed to be molding into a future starter.

For what it’s worth his PER was 15 in 2007, 13 in 2008 and a pathetic SIX this year. Thanks a lot Byron…

2009, Marcus Thornton, Darren Collison

After George Shinn expressed displeasure with Scott not developing young players, Byron reacted by playing the two draft picks a total of 21 minutes in the first seven games. In their stead he played bench sitting veteran Devin Brown and washed up Morris Peterson.

Since Scott was fired both Collison and Thornton have shown a ton of potential, averaging nearly 48 minutes per game combined. It’s unlikely that either would have seen significant time in Scotts “If you aren’t old then get in the doghouse” system.

To summarize-

Scott allows rookies to see a little bit of time, but at first sign of any inexperience, he opts to instead play veteran players who not only are less talented, but clearly have a lower ceiling.

His inconsistency with confidence causes players to be unsure of what their role on the team is, or why they are losing minutes to begin with. At the same time older players receive consistent minutes despite routine sub par performances.

Another player discarded by Scott who has shined elsewhere is Chris Anderson. After returning from a drug related suspension, Anderson signed on with the Hornets for the end of the 2007-2008 season. Scott let him play only 5 games, averaging six minutes per, but still showing that he was still a freak of nature. His .8 blocks and 1.6 rebounds don’t seem like much, but over 48 minutes that equates to 6.4 blocks and 13 boards.

He signed on the next year with Denver for the minimum contract and went on to lead the league in blocks per minute and provide a valuable interior presence, one the Hornets so desperately needed. Instead of Anderson the Hornets kept (you guessed it) Ryan Bowen, who Scott continued to play.

Again I realize that you might blame the GM for this, but if your coach is playing one guy and letting another rot the bench, which one would you resign? It’s sad that they both cost the same.

There are obviously more things wrong with Scott which I will tackle at a later date, but think about this for a while. How would you like remove young players from the Lakers winning equation? If that works for you, then Scott may just be your guy. If you are looking to win games over an extended period of time, then I would suggest a real NBA coach.

Lastly, you guys need to realize that you are the Lakers. You can get anyone you want to be your coach. There's no reason to settle for some random guy (who has been fired twice) just because he used to play for you. The coach that  Buss chooses as a successor should be someone without major flaws.

A few cheap shots since he’s no longer my coach-

He dresses like he’s a metro sexual model in GQ.

He never calls timeout to stop runs.

He constantly sticks with the same lineup, even when they are being slaughtered.

His lineups at times look like he just picked them out of a hat

Crossing your arms does not qualify as a coaching move.


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