Mark Jackson would be the wrong coach for the Lakers

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Coaching matters in the NBA, and there are plenty of examples of how the wrong coach can mess things up with the right team.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and perhaps a somewhat fruitful Russell Westbrook trade, the Los Angeles Lakers could perhaps have the right team again next season.

Numerous media outlets have been talking about several candidates for the vacant head coaching job in L.A., and one choice would reportedly have James “enthused.”

That man would be Mark Jackson.

Surely, there are likely some who feel he could work wonders with the Lakers, such as TNT analyst Kenny Smith.

Via Lakers Daily:

“Mark Jackson could coach the Lakers to a championship, for sure,” Smith said.

But when one takes a closer look, it is clear that Jackson just wouldn’t cut it.

Jackson underachieved with a future dynasty

When Jackson was hired as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors for the 2011-12 season, they had a young Stephen Curry and a rookie Klay Thompson.

Back then, Curry shared the backcourt with Monta Ellis, who was a very good player, and the frontcourt featured David Lee, an All-Star-caliber power forward.

That first season, the Warriors went 23-43, as Curry and Ellis missed numerous games.

The following season, Golden State traded Ellis and drafted Draymond Green, and it won 47 games, losing in the second round of the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs.

By now, it was clear that this group had serious potential. Curry was overcoming the injury issues that plagued him before, and he and Thompson were already a lethal combo.

But the Warriors only improved to 51 wins in 2014, and they fell in the first round of the postseason to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games.

Jackson was fired, and his successor, Steve Kerr, made the Warriors into the best version of themselves.

They improved to 67 wins in 2015 while going from fourth to first in defensive rating, 12th to second in offensive rating and 10th to first in points per game.

As a result, Golden State won the NBA championship that year.

Kerr got it done by maximizing the strengths of his players, while Jackson used ill-fitting and outdated offensive philosophies.

Via Bleacher Report:

“It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors struggled running offensive sets under the supervision of Mark Jackson,” wrote Adam Fromal.

“It’s true that Jackson was a master motivator and promoter of defensive fundamentals, but his offensive units often stagnated. All too often, possessions devolved into isolation and failed execution of basic plays.

“Stephen Curry wasn’t utilized as a catch-and-shoot player or used off the ball. Andrew Bogut—one of the NBA’s best facilitating bigs—rarely created for others. Ball screens were set too high and didn’t promote spacing from the shooters.

“But under Steve Kerr, things are different.”

As bad as the Lakers’ defense was this year (they ranked 21st in defensive rating), their offense was just as bad, as they were just 23rd in offensive efficiency.

Way too often, L.A.’s halfcourt offense was slow and stilted, with the team often forced to take low-percentage outside shots with the shot clock running down.

The Lakers need more movement, more innovation, more pace and more Showtime. Unless Jackson has evolved as an offensive tactician, he won’t be able to make any of that happen.

Perhaps Jackson's worst trait as coach

Other than being a tactician, the biggest role of an NBA head coach is to manage egos and unite his team under one shared vision.

Reportedly, Jackson failed to do the latter in Golden State, which led to his firing.

Via NBC Sports:

“Part of it was that he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob said back in 2014. “And look, he did a great job, and I’ll always compliment him in many respects, but you can’t have 200 people in the organization not like you.”

Why didn’t Jackson “get along with anyone else” in that organization?

Jackson, a native of the borough of Queens in New York City, is extremely religious, and he is also an ordained minister.

Certainly, his right to worship and practice his faith as a devout Christian should be respected and upheld.

But while he was at the helm of the Warriors, it reportedly became a problem.

While he got along well with Curry and Andre Iguodala, who are pretty religious themselves, there were numerous reports that Jackson’s faith became a wedge that divided his team, and that he didn’t get along with some of his players because they were secular.

There is nothing wrong with being devoutly religious, just as there’s nothing wrong with being secular and non-religious, but such personal views should not interfere with the functioning of a team.

The Lakers already had problems this season with team chemistry and harmony. Some of them had to do with Russell Westbrook’s reflexive reaction to feedback from coaches and teammates.

If they hope to return to their past glory, they cannot afford to bring in anyone who would be a divisive or polarizing presence.

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