Byron Scott has had a pretty inconsistent coaching history. This article points out a lot of things to be concerned about Scott’s coaching. But at Byron Scott’s press conference, there was a lot to like as a Lin fan and a Lakers fan. Scott at least appears to know what he needs to do, but we’ll see how successful he will be in the execution, which is what counts.
As a Jeremy Lin fan, it was refreshing to hear from a coach who actually understands Lin’s game. I don’t want to rehash the whole McFale/Lin thing again, but lets just say that Byron Scott has a much better understanding of Lin’s game, coaching against Lin during the handful of times he faced up against Lin than McHale does “coaching” Lin for two seasons! @drbrucehirsch on Twitter made a comment that Scott said more nice things about Lin in the press conference than McHale had in two years!
Here’s what Scott had to say about Lin: “Well, you know, the thing I like about Jeremy, is that he’s feisty. He’s tough. He competes. I’ve played against him, as far as coached against him, in a number of games, so I know how he is. He’s a competitor. The point guard position in this league today, on the defensive end, is vital. You’ve got to have guys that are — they don’t have to be great — they don’t have to be great one-on-one defenders, but they have to go after you. They have to just continue to be persistent at that end of the floor. I think Jeremy is like that, and offensively, obviously he can shoot the ball. He can push the ball up and down the floor. He gets to the basket. He’s a very, very intelligent basketball player, so again, after coaching against him for a few years, it’s going to be fun to coach him.”
What really impresses me is that Scott respects Lin’s defense, unlike many who are blinded to Lin’s underrated defense due to their own biases. Scott seems to genuinely respect Lin’s game. He must if he knows this much about Lin just from game-planning against Lin. This is the second time Scott has mentioned Lin’s defense in public. As many Lin fans recall, Scott said pretty much the same things when asked about Lin in a radio interview. Unlike most people, I feel like Scott really has an appreciation for Lin’s underrated defense. And this is going to be critical for Lin, because defense is THE point of emphasis for Scott’s coaching. He said that if you can’t play defense up to your capabilities, then he’d find some other player who could. For Scott, defense is more about effort than anything and we all know Lin puts in the effort. We’ll see if Scott lives up to this vow. In particular, what will Scott do if Kobe doesn’t want to put in the effort to play defense?
One of the biggest things for me, as a Lin fan, is to see how Scott handles Kobe. Of course, the Lakers is Kobe’s team and Scott respects that and Scott even said that he’s looking forward to talking about the game with Kobe and picking Kobe’s brilliant basketball mind. I think that’s great, because Kobe is one of the smartest players ever (not just on the court). But I hope Scott is able to also reign Kobe in at times for Kobe’s own good, as well as the team’s own good. I’m hoping that, because Scott was a mentor to Kobe when Kobe came into the league, Kobe will respect Scott as a coach and play team ball. Of course, this is presuming that Scott believes in team ball. One thing is for sure, Scott’s system relies on heavy Point Guard usage. I’m hoping that Scott trusts Lin to be THE Point Guard for the team, even though he says that he may have Kobe play some PG. We’ll see. I think it’s great for Kobe to play some PG, because Lin is more of a hybrid guard himself. So Lin doesn’t need the ball in his hands ALL THE TIME. This is actually one of the things that I didn’t like about D’Antoni’s system. It was way too predictable and exhausting to have Lin bring up the ball every single time and try to make something happen. I think it’s good for Lin to play off the ball some. Of course, I’m not talking about standing in the corner like he did in Houston. I’m talking about running off screens and cutting without the ball, etc. This is getting off topic, but I think Scott needs to do Pick-and-Rolls with Lin and Kobe with either of them switching off being the screen man for the other at different times.
One thing Scott said that makes me optimistic about Lin’s playing time is that he’ll sit down with the veterans on the team to talk to them about what they can realistically handle in terms of playing time. I’m hoping this includes Kobe, as well. And these are the types of things I’m talking about when it comes to Scott’s ability to reign in Kobe for Kobe’s and the team’s own good. Scott will, for sure, manage Nash’s time and he’ll also reduce Boozer’s time in order to give Randle more time. But we’ll see what Scott does about Kobe’s minutes. My guess is that Kobe is still going to play a ton of minutes, because it’s hard to keep an intense competitor like that down. I think Kobe is going to give it his all the next two years, knowing that they may be his last. I, for one, am confident that Kobe will be just as good as he had been before his injuries. This is just me betting on Kobe’s unrivaled intensity and hard work ethic. If this is the case, then Kobe deserves a lot of playing time, but if Kobe turns out to be a bum, then I hope Scott has the ability to reign in Kobe.
There’s no doubt Scott has his challenges ahead of him. For example, Scott can preach defense all he wants, but do the Lakers have the rim protectors needed to execute his defensive schemes? Is Scott just a nostalgic, feel-good hire at this point for a team that isn’t expected to compete for a championship in a few years or is he the Lakers coach of the future? At Scott’s press conference, there was Magic and Kareem there to add to the nostalgia and make all Lakers fans momentarily forget their current reality. This is one interpretation of why Scott was hired and a very valid one.
Although I do agree that nostalgia (as well as Kobe’s approval) is a big reason for Scott’s hire, I did feel a genuine winning mentality take hold at Scott’s press conference. A sense of genuine belief that Laker pride will be restored soon enough and Scott is in a unique position to do it. Scott said that he wants the players to think the way he and his showtime brothers used to think back in his playing days. Scott wants to change the players’ mind-sets and get them to think like winners. He said that when they lost games back in the day the locker room was completely quite, because they didn’t expect to lose. This might be a little thing, but as someone who is a big believer in mindsets and such, it was good to hear. And it sounds like Scott will have the full support of his showtime brothers throughout his coaching stay with the Lakers. I’m hoping that these intangibles will make Scott a better coach than he has ever been.
I get the sense that this job means a lot to Scott and he’s gong to do everything he can to be the best coach he can be. I think he’s plenty motivated and I’m hoping that will be the intangible factor to his success as coach of the Lakers, which was absent during his previous coaching stints. I was glad to hear him say that he’s going to use a combination of things he’s used in the past. This shows me that he’s open-minded enough to learn from past experience. I hope the brief time away from coaching has given him some perspective and will make him a good to great coach for the Lakers. As a Lin fan, anything will be better than McHale’s kindergarten, favoritism coaching, so there’s nowhere to go but up for Lin fans. So there’s a lot to like in LA so far for Lin fans.