A quarter of the 2012/13 season is behind us and the championship caliber Lakers are still in search of their identity. They started the season with a 1-4 record… if you include the preseason, that’s 1-12. All of that losing was under coach Mike Brown. He got fired and the Lakers hired Steve Nash’s former head coach Mike D’Antoni. After a couple wins over Denver and New Jersey, it looked like the Lakers were starting to play to expectations. Fast forward just a few weeks, and they’ve played 21 games and are sitting under .500.
All of this begs the question: was is really Mike Brown’s fault for the slow start?
Let’s face it. Before the season began, the Lakers were (and maybe still are) the best team on paper. They have some issues with the bench players not being consistent, but they also have the most dynamic starting lineup in the league. It’s no secret that the Princeton offense – with or without Mike Brown – just couldn’t work with these players. Coach Brown is a great defensive coach (or so we’ve heard), but that might be the only thing highlighted on his resume. At the end of the day, he is better suited to be an assistant coach.
When the Lakers hired D’Antoni as their head coach, we all assumed it would be the exact opposite. He knows a lot about basketball, no doubt there, but he also doesn’t pay attention to defense, which is clearly the wrong thing to do. As the old cliche goes, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
Under Mike Brown, the Lakers faced Dallas (without Dirk Nowitzki), Portland, LA Clippers, Detroit and Utah. In that bunch, the only understandable loss is to the Clippers. Clearly, they have far more team chemistry than the Lakers. But, to lose to the Dallas Mavericks without Dirk on topening night when you had no injured players? That is simply unacceptable, especially considering the Lakers talent level (both Nash and Gasol played in that game). The rotations Brown utilized were just odd and didn’t work, not to mention that whole Princeton offense disaster.
To be fair, it wasn’t only Mike Brown’s fault for the 1-4 record after five games. Players were still getting to know each other and the media put a lot of pressure on them. However, this is Los Angeles. If you are not up for the task, there are always people waiting in line to replace you.
In hindsight, the players just didn’t have confidence in what Mike Brown was doing, and in my opinion, D’Antoni is a better option because of his experience and overall basketball knowledge. Of course, we all wanted and expected Phil Jackson to return, but D’Antoni is who we got and now we need to have faith in him to turn this Lakers squad back into a championship caliber team by playoff time.