5 Reasons the Lakers should make a run at Kenny Atkinson for head coach

The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly considering hitting the refresh button on the coaching search. If true, Kenny Atkinson should be added to the list.
2022 NBA Finals - Game Six
2022 NBA Finals - Game Six / Elsa/GettyImages
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3. Kenny Atkinson understands defense

The Brooklyn Nets were by no means an elite team under head coach Kenny Atkinson. As such, any statistical rankings should be looked at through the lens of improvement versus the idea that he was meant to create a top-tier team with the resources at his disposal—and don't worry, we'll get there.

Throughout Atkinson's career, however, one thing has become abundantly clear: He understands how to get his players to buy in on defense.

The Nets finished the 2018-19 season at 42-40, ending a four-year postseason drought and ranking 15th in defensive rating. That might not jump off the page, but it's important to look at where Brooklyn was before Atkinson helped them reach the heights they did.

The year before Atkinson took the job, 2015-16, the Nets ranked 29th in defensive rating—and within three seasons, they'd jumped 14 spots.

Atkinson accomplished this with an injury-plagued roster that lacked an Anthony Davis equivalent. Jarrett Allen played well as a second-year center, but the other players who led the Nets in starts were D'Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, Rodion Kurucs, Caris LeVert, and a 33-year-old Jared Dudley.

That's a decent lineup, but it doesn't exactly scream solid defense. Now imagine what he could do with Davis leading the charge.