On a crumpled piece of paper lies the Lakers’ foundation.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown pulled it out of his pocket after Tuesday’s practice, dangled it before the cameras and then quickly put it back in as if he were protecting confidential documents.
They’re his practice plans. Brown didn’t make photocopies for everyone to study and dissect, but the few seconds he took that paper out of his pocket allowed enough time to notice a few nuggets. He lists every offensive and defensive set he wants to run in the time allotted and writes out the different lineup combinations he wants to see. And as first noticed by ESPN/Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi, the paper features this statement at the top of the page: “Chemistry = Trust.”
This approach could prove to be nothing more than a mindless mission statement, particularly if the Lakers’ front office doesn’t secure any of the so-called “big deals” General Manager Mitch Kupchak claims the team is pursuing. But it helps explain why the players have immediately latched onto Brown’s practices.
“It gives you a great deal of confidence that you know he’s put in so much work and so much time to sit there and plan the entire practice from drill to drill, from minute to minute,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “Everything is specifically what he wants us to do offensively and what he wants us to do defensively and he plans those accordingly.”
The result: a practice that’s full of high-intensity drills emphasizing defensive rotations and pushing the ball so that it reaches the time line within the first 10 seconds. “Attacking the clock,” Brown calls it, and it appears the Lakers coach himself attacks practice just as aggressively.
Brown, seven assistant coaches and four D-Fenders not only pace the sidelines, they’re on the court with them in the drills, whether it’s with the big men working on post moves, with the guards working on their shooting or in full-court scrimmages. During these drills at a recent practice, Brown often interrupted them to tactfully point out mistakes and then provided positive reinforcement.
He acknowledged that it’s unrealistic to conduct such intense practices all the time, considering the 66-game schedule and injuries could make that counterproductive. But for players who often publicly and privately complained of the lack of personal instruction last season, Brown’s hands-on approach could make a difference.
“We don’t want to leave before the players leave,” Brown said. “Then I feel like we’re cheating Dr. Buss.”
And that approach starts with the detailed crumbled piece of paper in his pocket.