(“What went wrong this season?” is the question we get the most from fans at Silver Screen & Roll. The 2012-2013 team had championship expectations, but a convergence of worst case scenarios kicked down LA to the the fringes of playoff contention. In this post series, we’ll be taking a look at just what went wrong with each part of the Los Angeles Lakers this year, how it affected the organization and if this could be a problem going forward. Check out our examinations of the guards and big men from this past week.)
Mike Brown: 1-4 record (0-8 preseason)
Bernie Bickerstaff: 4-1 record
Mike D’Antoni: 40-32 (0-4 postseason)
What went wrong with the coaching?
The style of the coaches mismatched the personnel not once–but twice. Mike Brown, a dubious choice to continue his coaching tenure in this season, couldn’t get his team to believe in his system or play hard for him.
What was unarguably one of the worst seasons in franchise history was strangely bookended by the same beginning and ending: a winless season proceeded by an winless postseason. There’s no question that injuries are the primary cause here–when Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard miss a combined 149 games, there’s no team that can remain a contender through that type of storm
However, the problem is that even when healthy, the personnel never quite synched up with the coaching style of the team’s two skippers.
Mike Brown’s tenure felt doomed even before the season began. The 2010 Coach of the Year was already under fire for a problem that never stopped dogging him from his time with the Cavaliers: a lack of an offensive system. Most times, the floor would be dotted with 3 shooters with a big man in the paint, with LeBron James acting as a single pivot to essentially create scoring chances all by himself. Either the defenses would crash leaving an open shooter, or oftentimes James would have to make something out of nothing using his superior passing and ability to penetrate the interior. The Cavs were a plodding, methodical bunch, finishing 25th in pace for Brown’s last three seasons in Cleveland, despite having the league’s most explosive fast break player. Still, a lot of the criticism on Mike seemed unfounded, as the Cavs finished in the top 6 of offensive efficiency for those same three years.
In LA, the 2011-2012 season saw a lot of the same, simplistic and sometimes non-existent offensive schemes. In a move that seemed almost defiant in its construction, Brown hired former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan to implement a Princeton-style offense. The idea was that the system would create scoring opportunities more easily for players without the ability to create offense on their own. This complex scheme of backdoor screens, cuts and cross court movement was lost on the Lakers personnel, and seemed to marginalize the one-on-one excellence of Kobe Bryant, the pick and roll brilliance of PnR virtuoso Steve Nash and the dominant post-up play of Pau Gasol. The Lakers didn’t warm to the idea of the Princeton all throughout training camp, with players giving lukewarm reviews to a plan that seemed needlessly complicated considering all the natural offensive talent on the floor.
(Peep the rest after the break)