When we last saw the Lakers' defense, it was getting annihilated by the Dallas Mavericks and looking very much like something that needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. The Laker front office appeared to share this opinion when it hired Mike Brown as the new head coach. Say what you will about the Cavaliers' offensive foibles under Brown, but his Cavs were excellent on D, and Brown's reputation as a defensive strategist par excellence was the one thing even those of us most skeptical of his hiring were forced to concede. And I think we've all been looking forward to seeing what schematic adjustments he's got up his sleeve to get the Laker D back to championship form.
Until now. Because apparently, Mike Brown won't be making any changes at all to the Laker defense. The same system that struggled for long stretches last season and got blown apart by Dallas? Mike's good with it. No changes needed, except maybe he'll yell at guys a little more than Phil did. This exciting news comes from assistant coach Chuck Person, who today brought the LA Times' Mark Medina up to speed on the thinking of the Lakers' newly installed brain trust.
Here's the exchange in question. You can read Mark's full Q&A with Person here.
Medina: Given how the team played defense last season and the fact there is a coaching change, what scheme do you envision the team having on defense? What elements will be similar to last season and what elements will be different?
Person: I think the basic scheme will be the same. We'll keep the ball out of the middle of the floor, force the ball baseline without getting beat, come over from the weak side to do what we call "trap the box," and make sure the ball stays out of the paint. We are going to shrink the floor and invite opponents to shoot with a contested hand on every shot, so that won't change from last year. What will change is we will have the players be held more accountable for executing our defensive philosophy and defensive game plans from game-to-game. Mike won't have any leniency when it comes to that end of the floor. He'll allow them to make some mistakes offensively, but there won't be much room defensively for guys to go off on their own and do things outside of the defensive system that we implement.
Got that? Mike Brown, Defensive Sorcerer, will not be making any changes to the defensive system. No, the problem was that Phil Jackson, Basketball Coaching God With 11 Rings, didn't hold guys accountable enough. So Mike Brown, who's been roundly criticized for the fact that no one on his Cleveland teams, up to and including LeBron James, was ever held accountable for anything, is going to fix all that. This is what the scientific community calls "ass backwards."
I get that the situation in Cleveland was messed up, but come on. If you really think the problem was a lack of accountability, Mike Brown is not the guy you hire. And if he's not going to work some X's and O's magic on the D, then what exactly is he doing here? Somewhere, Brian Shaw is shaking his head and pouring another drink.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.