What we know about Mike Brown is that he knows how to win games in the regular season, he’s a defensive specialist, and he is no longer welcomed in Los Angeles.
Why bring this man in again? If he couldn’t win a title with the best player in the league, then why bring him in again and try and win with a group of young kids?
Brown is a good coach. Whether you like him or not after the 2010 NBA Playoffs and the chaos his team went through is one thing. But at everywhere he has been at, he has won. As a player, as an assistant, and head coach, he has the experience in the playoffs. And that’s the first step to changing the culture of a team.
Although his time in Los Angeles seems like a complete disaster, he finished with a 42-29 record before being fired five games into the 2012-13 season. His first, and only full season with the team, he led the Lakers to the Western Conference Semifinals, losing to the Western Conference champs, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Brown was a descendant of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who has coached one of the greatest franchises in the past decade. They’ve won three championships the past 10 years: 2003, 2005, 2007. Brown has picked up on Popovich’s “no bullshit” mentality, and if you don’t play 100 percent, then you won’t play. And in the three preseason games Brown has coached, we’ve seen him carryout that mentality with Anthony Bennett. Bennett is still recovering from shoulder surgery, and is a bit out of shape, but Brown still demands perfection.
In the preseason opener, Bennett had several defensive lapses. Bennett’s mistakes were big enough of a concern for Brown that he had to call a timeout on five different occasions. This is all new for Bennett, so instead of him falling into bad habits, Brown called a timeout as soon as he could so his new rookie forward wouldn’t think his lack of defensive effort is acceptable.
In their game against the Magic, Bennett air-balled his first three and failed to get back on defense. According to Brown, that is a direct summon to the bench. But since it is preseason, he talked with him and let him stay in the game. Lucky for the Cavs, Bennett would go on to score 14 points in the fourth quarter and beat Orlando.
Brown is a good teacher. He has a high basketball IQ and can have a big influence on young players. In his first stint with the Cavs he had a bigger job of managing multiple stars on one team. When you coach a team with championship ambitions, half the battle is keeping all of their egos in check. With Brown taking over this young roster, he has the chance to squash their egos early. Sure, Bennett was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft and was one of the most dynamic scorers in college basketball last year, but that doesn’t mean anything in the NBA. Brown is putting Bennett in his place by teaching him how to be a two-way player.
It’s only been three games, so I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say this team will compete in the East. However, with the not-so-subtle changes Chris Grant has made, it’s easy to get excited about this season. As you should, with the combination of youth, talent and size, this team should be fun to watch.
But Sam Amico’s tweets might be a little more entertaining:
Cavs’ Dion Waiters on Mike Brown: “I love how he coaches me. Takes me out, talks to me, puts me back in. He knows what’s best for me.”