The problem with the Laker's coaching staff that nobody talks about
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Don Draper
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:11 am    Post subject: The problem with the Laker's coaching staff that nobody talks about

Positivity.

If you think that's crazy, hear me out.

Go check out the "meet the staff" page on the Lakers website and read about how our assistant coaches view their roles next to Luke:

http://www.nba.com/lakers/archive/Coaching%20Staff

Not a single one of them talks about a specific philosophy, or brings any real experience to the table besides maybe Brian Keefe (yet his claim to fame is still a pep talk about being positive that he had with Kevin Durant in 2014).

Jesse Mermuys and Jud Buechler make repeated points about how "positive" they are and how Luke's vibe rubs off on the team. Again, no specifics or sense that they know how to coach an NBA level team.

All Brian Keefe can say about Luke is that he has a "great presence...[and] knows how to create a good environment to improve."

But the problem with pinning everything on a vague sense of positivity is that it can only cover up your deficiencies for so long. I'm sure we've all had a boss who is nice, makes us feel good about ourselves, and creates an encouraging environment, only to also be a terrible planner, flighty, absent-minded, and incoherent. And how do we treat those bosses? We love them at first, but sooner or later we question whether we could be doing the damn job more effectively than they are.

Beyond our assistant's cult-like belief in Luke's persona being able to solve all problems, they're simply too inexperienced, which has been well-documented.

Let's start at the top and work our way down:

Brian Keefe

Probably has the most exp on the staff if that says anything. Shadowed with the Spurs in 2007. Assisted at OKC from 2009-2014, taking over for Ron Adams as defensive coordinator (which evidently didn't work out too well because he's now in player development). Most recently he assisted for Derek Fisher during one of the darkest phases in Knicks history.

Jesse Mermuys

No offense to Jesse, but there's no way he'd be an NBA assistant had he not been best friends with Luke in college and worked at the University of Arizona. Like Luke, he relies on generalities like "pace and space" and hinges his worth as a coach on the idea that he "radiates positivity both on and off the court."

Like Keefe, Mermuys sees himself as a player development coach, not an X's and O's guy.

Jud Buechler

One of the most mystifying hires I've seen in ages. We promoted him straight from his daughter's soccer games to NBA assistant coach. Even the official Lakers article on Jud has a sense of irony about this, revealed in this line:

Quote:
Fortunately, his good friend, Luke Walton, took over as head coach of the Lakers this summer and saw Buechler’s energy and experience as a worthy addition to the coaching staff.


Maybe Jud is an X's and O's genius, but he doesn't envision himself that way:

Quote:
“I’ve been told I’m the most positive person on the planet,” Buechler said, beaming. “I don’t know if I am or not, but I think positive energy’s huge, especially with a young group of guys. We’re not going to win every game, and losing is really tough on young players and on teams in this league. So we just need to stay the course, (think) more big picture and enjoy the process of getting better.”


In other words, he's useless regarding the problems this team has.

Mark Madsen

Mark Madsen is also a guy with a background in player development, not X's and O's. To be fair though, Madsen is a cast off from the previous administration who no doubt has little say compared to Luke's buddies.

Brian Shaw

You would expect some X's and O's expertise to come from your "Associate" Head Coach, and yet Shaw, like the rest of the staff, hangs his hat on his track record in player development. What's more confusing about Shaw is that I'm not sure he meshes with Luke's Positivity Doctrine, having been run out of town while "coaching" for the Nuggets.


Summary

Our staff is chock full of mostly inexperienced guys who haven't put the work in to get where they are today, or at least, they've been slotted into the wrong roles and are redundant. Every single one of Luke's hires approaches the game of basketball not from a logical sense of X's and O's and a real deep-seated strategy, but from the shallow and abstract sense that basketball is about "feeling good" and "creating a positive environment."

My contention is that, as in any work environment, positivity from the leadership only goes so far. Nobody likes a boss who radiates positivity only to be supremely deficient regarding the ins and outs of their position, or is scatterbrained when it comes time to make decisions.

Almost all of our assistant coaches are failures or newbies that are being given a second or first chance by Luke either because he's already their best friend or because they mesh with his "vibe." Maybe that would work were Luke a basketball genius, but he's barely more experienced than Buechler.

Thus, it is no surprise to me why we look so terrible down the stretch of games, with poor offensive sets, horrific rotations, useless timeouts, and clueless looking coaches. The truth is that nobody on our staff knows how to coach. They all hang their hats on their ability to "develop" players behind the scenes. And as a result, nobody is willing or able to take the reins when actual games are on the line.
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PHILosophize
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:14 am    Post subject:

Great post, dude. It is insane how terrible our assistant coaches are, both as individuals and how they mesh together as a staff.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:19 am    Post subject:

They would make an awesome high school coaching staff tho....
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:19 am    Post subject:

PHILosophize wrote:
Great post, dude. It is insane how terrible our assistant coaches are, both as individuals and how they mesh together as a staff.


It's only going to keep getting worse as our players come to realize the deficiencies of the staff.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject:

No matter what happens they'll probably be a shake up after this season. It may not be Luke, but Rob and Magic want to hire the best people, and I'm sad to say this coaching staff ain't it.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject:

tkLAKERS wrote:
They would make an awesome high school coaching staff tho....


[insert jonnybravo's avatar gif here]
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32
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject:

There's something about Brian Shaw that rubs me the wrong way. I'm not sure what it is.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:24 am    Post subject:

PHILosophize wrote:
Great post, dude.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:32 am    Post subject:

32 wrote:
There's something about Brian Shaw that rubs me the wrong way. I'm not sure what it is.


It didn't happen when Phil was here.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:07 am    Post subject:

So basically you have a team of 8 Chris Traegers in the staff that sit there with blank faces during the game and then lose their cool at the refs or Devin Booker or something and that's that.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:18 am    Post subject:

1. Luke’s bizarre rotations and in-game adjustments.
2. Coaching staff severely lacks above average Xs and Os.

Tough to win in this league with those challenges.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:24 am    Post subject:

Good, good stuff right here. I salute you.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:25 am    Post subject:

levon wrote:
So basically you have a team of 8 Chris Traegers in the staff that sit there with blank faces during the game and then lose their cool at the refs or Devin Booker or something and that's that.

Ouch! There’s a whole lot of truth up in here.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:08 pm    Post subject:

levon wrote:
So basically you have a team of 8 Chris Traegers in the staff that sit there with blank faces during the game and then lose their cool at the refs or Devin Booker or something and that's that.


Lit-er-ally the realest post I've ever read
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:06 pm    Post subject:

It was about a month ago I made a note of carefully watching Luke & his staff. I just couldn't get a sense of a solid staff. It felt too damn friendly. Now you've provided a well written synopsis of why I've felt this way.

Overall, it feels like this team can do so much better.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:23 pm    Post subject:

Excellent post

Luke’s positive energy was a welcome transition from B Scott’s old school folded arms -man up style. But positive energy can only take you so far, I’ll give Luke credit for the teams improvement defensively, but horrible lineups and lack of in-game adjustments is taking away from the good things he’s doing including player development. Another big issue with Luke is veteran players manage to play worse under him after having a stellar season the year prior for example Brook Lopez, Luol Deng, KCP etc, that part confuses the hell out of me
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:40 pm    Post subject:

I agree with everything you've said but maybe just maybe the top level associate/assistant coaches don't want to come coach 19 year olds... moreover, maybe they don't have the patience to do it effectively.

Hopefully after this season, we're transition from low level assistant's who are good with teaching basics to high level coaching minds who can hold players accountable and help win games.

I think Luke is getting way too much hate but at some point coaches always shoulder the blame so he's best off getting some guys who can help.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:01 pm    Post subject:

OP-Good post, not to nitpick, but I would just like to add two things.

First, you said positivity is the problem, but I think what you meant is positivity without experience. There's a big difference. You mentioned that most of these guys are more specialized in player development rather than schemes, but isn't that a good thing for a team like this? It is clear we need a more experience X's and O's guy to help out, I just wasn't sure if you were mentioning this as if it was a negative.

Second, were you expecting a real X's and O's breakdown from the "meet the staff" page? I bet if we had a segment where we sit each of them down and talk more about basketball, we would have more detailed answers as to what we want to do on the court with our guys.

At the end of the day we don't have access to all the practices, film sessions, and details of our coaching strategies, leaving a lot of room for speculation for us fans. I do agree with your premise, but I personally believe that basketball is a sport where talent is much more of a determinant than coaching (as opposed to a sport like football), and thus we will only get as far as our roster takes us. That said, better coaching will definitely speed up the process.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:00 pm    Post subject:

Good post OP.

I'll be the first to say I'm not a coaching expert, but just from my view, I wouldn't be surprised if they look for some help to bolster the assistant coaches lineup there. None of them look like the type that should be pilfered by other teams.

I know each of the coaches have their responsibilities, but due to Luke's inexperience, I would hope someone would have enough of a wealth of experience to make up for his lack. So far that hasn't panned out.

Bye.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:18 pm    Post subject:

trablos wrote:
OP-Good post, not to nitpick, but I would just like to add two things.

First, you said positivity is the problem, but I think what you meant is positivity without experience. There's a big difference. You mentioned that most of these guys are more specialized in player development rather than schemes, but isn't that a good thing for a team like this? It is clear we need a more experience X's and O's guy to help out, I just wasn't sure if you were mentioning this as if it was a negative.

Second, were you expecting a real X's and O's breakdown from the "meet the staff" page? I bet if we had a segment where we sit each of them down and talk more about basketball, we would have more detailed answers as to what we want to do on the court with our guys.

At the end of the day we don't have access to all the practices, film sessions, and details of our coaching strategies, leaving a lot of room for speculation for us fans. I do agree with your premise, but I personally believe that basketball is a sport where talent is much more of a determinant than coaching (as opposed to a sport like football), and thus we will only get as far as our roster takes us. That said, better coaching will definitely speed up the process.


Good points, and two things I thought about and maybe should have addressed more clearly. Basically, I agree with you on both counts. I meant to say that positivity in and of itself isn't enough; experience and X's and O's proficiency is also part of the equation.

And I imagine these guys aren't completely inept when it comes to X's and O's, and I wouldn't presume that given that, as you say, I have no access to their meetings or conversations, etc. It just seems that, given their history, and given the performance of the team, some things aren't quite adding up.

In fact I'd be surprised if one if not all of these guys weren't spending a god awful amount of time trying to sharpen their X's and O's skills. But to use an analogy, if I'm going to Harvard I don't want a professor who's getting their PhD on the job.
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Last edited by Don Draper on Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:18 pm    Post subject:

32 wrote:
There's something about Brian Shaw that rubs me the wrong way. I'm not sure what it is.


Ask the nuggets and Dlo.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:08 pm    Post subject:

Should have kept all the head coaches that the Lakers fired in the past 10 yrs to be the assistant coaches. They still pay their salaries anyway right?
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:51 pm    Post subject:

I am not on the fire Luke bandwagon but I have been saying since pretty much the season started that I would like for him to get rid of his Arizona friends and various random people, and get a real coaching staff.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:01 am    Post subject:

TDRock wrote:
I am not on the fire Luke bandwagon but I have been saying since pretty much the season started that I would like for him to get rid of his Arizona friends and various random people, and get a real coaching staff.



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:25 am    Post subject:

Good coaching staff should be a combination of young and veteran coaches.

It's evident this Arizona buddy club ain't getting it done.
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