Is Byron Scott The Right Coach For The Lakers?


In the summer of 2014, Lakers fans witnessed one of their own come back home when Byron Scott took the head coaching position. Scott had the visible support of Laker greats such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamal Wilkes. After the questionable hires of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni before him, things seemed to be headed in the right direction in Lakerland. Then the season started…

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The Lakers got off to a horrid start at 1-9, then Nick Young came back and there was optimism with two wins in a row. Kobe Bryant would only last until mid-January with a season ending shoulder injury, then all hope was lost by the All-Star break. Amidst the shuffling lineups, injuries to Julius Randle, Steve Nash, Ronnie Price and Young didn’t help the cause, yet a lot of Scott’s strategy was questioned throughout the season.

About every 20 games Scott would change the starting lineup in favor of giving new guys more playing time. The highlight of the season was Jordan Clarkson‘s development, but it was foreshadowed by Ed Davis‘ lack of playing time, Jeremy Lin‘s inconsistency and Scott’s criticism of Young. The Princeton Offense paired with a non-existent defense had Lakers fans resorting to chants of tanking to keep the Top 5 protected pick from the Phoenix Suns (now Philadelphia 76’ers). The result was the Lakers having the 4th worst record in the league and a franchise record 61 losses. Watching the previous seasons, it didn’t feel as bad as D’Antoni’s final year based on the talent level on the roster, but it left fans wondering if Scott was the right hire for the job.

At the time of Scott’s hire, the Lakers assembled a roster that would have problems staying competitive in the D-League, so to be fair to Scott he didn’t have any say on the makeup of the team. The delay of his hiring caused the Lakers to miss out on names such as Lionel Hollins, Jerry Sloan and George Karl, but it seemed they had their mind made up in hiring Scott. Giving him a 4-year contract with the last year as a team option makes you wonder, do the Lakers believe he’s the best fit or just a coach in transition while the team rebuilds?

Byron Scott’s ability to win is directly related to the talent on his roster. He’s coached great point guards like: Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving albeit with varying results. As a former shooting guard in the league, he depends on a floor general to lead his team into battle. Scott’s old-school approach is probably the biggest knock against him. He doesn’t believe three-point shooting is crucial to winning, the Princeton Offense is outdated and he’s not an offensive guru by any means. All this being said, with potential upgrades on the way, next season will place Scott on the hot seat to win.

Looking ahead to 2016, if the Lakers land a couple of superstar free agents and the likes of Tom Thibodeau is available do the Lakers replace Scott? For now, Scott is the right coach for the job. There isn’t a coach in the league who would have wanted the roster the Lakers had this past season, but he could have done better with what he had (unless the goal was to lose). Let’s say Scott is the transition coach for now until he proves he can win with an improved lineup.

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