Commentary

Why Mike Brown hire makes sense

The numbers show why defensive-minded coaches, like L.A.'s Brown, are the way to go

Updated: May 27, 2011, 1:38 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus
Mike BrownJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe stats show that Mike Brown is underrated as an offensive coach.

Reactions to this week's news that Mike Brown will replace Phil Jackson at the helm of the Los Angeles Lakers have run the gamut. Brown remains something of a punchline dating to the 2007 NBA Finals, when his Cleveland Cavaliers team had no Plan B on offense after LeBron James and was swept by the San Antonio Spurs on the league's biggest stage. When the Cavaliers reemerged as one of the league's top teams behind elite units at both ends of the floor, Brown was rewarded as Coach of the Year, and a reevaluation of Brown's reputation began despite the fact that he was fired last year.

So which coach is the real Brown, the defensive specialist who rode James to offensive respectability, or a top defensive mind who tailored his offense to the talent available? Evaluating coaches remains one of the most difficult tasks for statistics, but there is some evidence that can help differentiate myth from reality when it comes to the Lakers' new coach.

The good news for L.A. fans and Brown is that the numbers come out in the coach's favor.