If you been on the Internet at all yesterday than you probably heard about two breaking news bulletins. The first report being about the Associated Press and how their Twitter account was hacked with somebody sending out a fake tweet to their 3 million followers. The second major news report was probably about The Cleveland Cavaliers, who just fired head coach Byron Scott after a few seasons of failure, having agreed upon a five-year contract to hire former head coach Mike Brown. Let’s talk about Mike Brown shall we.
As you may know, Brown coached the Cavaliers from the 2005 season until the 2010 season. After keeping a satisfied LeBron James happy, James fled to Miami, which ultimately led to the demise of Brown’s coaching job in Cleveland. He was blamed for everything.
When news broke out that Scott was relieved of his duties, two names came at the top of my list as potential coaching candidates. Mike Brown and Phil Jackson. The idea of Jackson ever coaching another team, in this league, especially the Cavaliers was laughable so I ruled it out, but sure enough the Cavaliers did indeed contact him as a potential candidate. Now would Jackson realistically coach a Cavaliers team, who in probably the next five years won’t win a championship, as they need a lot of work to even become playoff contenders? Probably not, which was why I ruled it out. I also thought about Stan Van Gundy coaching this lowly Cavs team as a possibility but he didn’t seem interested so that left Mike Brown as the clear-cut logical choice.
The Cavaliers as well couldn’t mess up hiring another coach. Since LeBron left they were fortunate enough to pick up point guard sensation, Kyrie Irving in the draft. So now the demand is to keep Irving happy and persuading him to sign a contract extension as Irving, the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft, won’t be able to become a restricted free agent until summer of 2015. They Cavs will be able to start talking extension next summer 2014.
Ultimately Cleveland made the right choice wisely hiring Brown as soon as possible. Brown who was recently relieved of his duties in Los Angeles, attracted much attention from the NBA market as teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns were gaining interested in his coaching duties. Plus, the decision ultimately came down to his family wanting to live in Cleveland.
Nonetheless, while the idea is keeping your franchise player happy, the Cavs have to think about building around Irving and constructing a playoff caliber team. The main reason why James headed to South Beach was basically because he didn’t have enough support in Cleveland. He was running the show with no help whereas he has help from Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in Miami. But even still, it took the trio two years to win a championship. If general manager, Chris Grant, can manage to build a good cast around Irving, they’ll still lack the ability to play sub par defense without a defense minded coach. As the old proverb goes offense wins games, defense wins championships.
That’s where Brown comes in this equation. Brown coaches with a defensive orientated system like other coaches such as Doc Rivers,
Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich. All these coaches have one thing in common and that’s achieving successes of their own by emphasizing defense. Though as controversial and ridiculous as it may seem to even name all three future hall of fame coaches and compare them in the same paragraph to Mike Brown, it’s evident that they have a strong attention stressing defense.
Which brings up my next point about Irving. Irving as we know is a tremendous player offensively. Last season, Irving had 160 total turnovers last season surprisingly ranking 20th among others, with a turnover ratio of 12.6. He also had a defensive rebound rate of 11.2 and a total rebound rate of 7.0. All this said imagine what kind of player Irving could be if he learned to play good defense from Mike Brown. Brown’s defensive game plan will ultimately challenge Irving, Waiters and the other young guys to become more serious on the defensive end.
In my previous article that I linked above, I mentioned Brown and his superior defense. In short when Brown took over as head coach in 2005, Cleveland’s defense ranked 20th in the NBA. In his final two years he brought the Cavs defensive ranking to second in the league in 2008-2009 and seventh in 2009-2010. Heck he even brought Cleveland to the second round of the playoffs. I understand James had a lot to do with those numbers, but it was Brown’s emphasis, principles and influence on the defensive side that mostly generated those numbers.
Looking at his time in Los Angeles, I still believe his firing in L.A. was unjustified. He held a record 41 wins, 25 losses during last year’s season, winning the pacific title and going to the second round of the playoffs as well and as we know, after a slow 1-4 start to the season, he was unwillingly fired. He was fired in Cleveland after maintaining a record 66 wins, 16 losses and 61 wins, 21 losses.
To further prove how dominant on of a coach he was, Brown achieved a winning percentage of .633, the highest winning percentage ever in Cavaliers history. In his five-year tenure he logged in an outstanding 272 wins and 138 losses. Scott only won 64 games in his three-year coaching career with the Cavs, so it’s obvious who the better coach for this team is.
While on defense he’s like a wizard of some sort, he’s bad at implementing and enforcing offense into his game plan.
In essence, Brown would feed the ball to James and hope for a defensive breakdown that could end in the result of an open uncontested three-pointer or a chance at driving in the paint. Still the team was able to finish 6th in offensive rating and 10th in points-per-game during Brown’s last years, mostly due to offensive coordinator John Kuester. Kuester held the job during Brown’s five-year run and later on transferred to Los Angeles with Brown.
Still, who knows what offense Brown will run this time around. During Byron Scott’s tenure, Scott ran a similar system to the Princeton offense. This proved to be successful with Varejao at the key. Assuming most key pieces stay next season, they’ll most likely run this offense since the team is comfortable and experienced with it.
In 2008, before giving Kuester the keys and go-ahead in regards to control over offense, Brown spoke to The Cleveland Plain Dealer speaking about many offensive strategies.
The Lakers’ Triangle Offense: ”It’s a terrific offense,” Brown said. “So is the Princeton offense that Washington runs, with the ball moving, people moving. But you also need the right personnel to runs those offenses.” He added: “At the end of the game, the Lakers gave the ball to Kobe [Bryant] and expected him to make a play. You don’t see the triangle much in the final three minutes of the game, and it didn’t help them much against Boston’s defense.”
The Cavs’ offense: They need to “space the floor better,” meaning have the players spread out to create shooting and passing angles. He wants them to push the ball more, to fast break when possible. He plans some revisions, but not major overhauls. “Look at Boston,” Brown said. “There is nothing tricky about their offense. They give the ball to Kevin Garnett on the [inside] block, they give to it Paul [Pierce] on top of the key. They move the ball, and try to put their playmakers in position to make plays.”
James getting the ball inside or cutting to the basket: ”We do have plays for that, and we should use them more often,” Brown said. “But LeBron is very effective when he gets the ball in the middle of the floor. So is Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Kobe and guys like that. It’s hard to double-team them.” But Brown admitted he may have used that 1-4 offense too much, that it can create stagnation, as teammates watch James dribble and create his own shot.
Brown essentially switched offensive strategies from the 1-4 offense to the Princeton offense, both systems dynamically opposite whereas one requires off-ball movement while the other requires the latter. In short who’s to know what kind of offensive strategy Brown will implement this time around.
Needless to say it would be smart for the Cavaliers to hire Kuester as the offensive coordinator again since Brown was basically fired for running the Princeton offense with the inability to adjust.
Mike Brown is the right coach for the Cavaliers. His defense will have tremendous impact on Irving and Waiters, both of whom lack defense. However, who’s to know what he may do on the offensive end. We have seen Brown switch up offensive strategies with both positive and negative results. However if the Cavs can manage to pick up Kuester again, and if Grant manages to do a terrific job this off-season in the draft or picking up a veteran, the Cavs may be playoff contenders once more.
Topics: 2013 NBA Draft, Anderson Varejão, Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade, Gregg Popovich, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Mike Brown, NBA, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Tom Thibodeau, Twitter