Byron Scott Seeks Return to Traditional Principles

After experiencing decreasing returns in recent years, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be making a concerted effort to rebrand themselves. But not in some modernistic, forward-thinking way. Instead, it’s a return to bedrock principles.

Byron Scott, the team’s new head coach, is leading the charge, embracing traditional concepts like team responsibility. You’ll hear phrases like “it starts with defense” more than the small-ball manifestos that have become so commonplace in the new NBA.

The Lakers even positioned three of Scott’s former Showtime teammates behind him at his introductory press conference as a show of support. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes offered words of welcome and encouragement. Johnson talked about the excitement of getting “back to playing Lakers basketball.”

It’s as if the organization is putting as much conscious distance as possible between its new retro mindset and the one espoused by Mike D’Antoni.

A coach so intrinsically linked with free-flowing, score-first basketball has been replaced by one whose mandate is to stop the ball.

During the presser, per Lakers.com, Scott responded to a question about enforcing defensive responsibility:

The only thing you can really control with players is their minutes. That gets their attention. So, if you’re not out there and playing defense the way I think you’re capable of playing or the way we should be playing defense, then I’m going to have to find other guys who will.

And what about the offensive end of the floor?

Scott is planning on using elements of a system that date back to the Princeton Tigers men’s basketball team of the 1930s. Interestingly, the Princeton offense was briefly introduced at the start of the Lakers’ 2012-13 season under coach Mike Brown.

Brown was fired after five games and replaced by D’Antoni, who had no use for old-school concepts—he was ready to run the open floor. And then the next two seasons happened.

During a Grantland podcast taped last March, Steve Nash was asked by Bill Simmons about that short-lived Princeton experiment. Here’s how Nash responded:

It’s a really intricate, detailed offense that has real rules. And, it’s a beautiful thing—the Princeton offense is beautiful. I just don’t know if it was the right thing. And I think in some ways, if it had been this summer, it would have never happened because analytics probably would have been… I feel like the analytics movement has never been, like ‘oh, the Princeton, that would suit analytics.’ That movement’s kind of turned a corner to where it doesn’t seem like it.

But Nash is about to come face-to-face with non-analytics once again.

During his press conference, Scott spoke about an offense he has used in varying degrees throughout his career as a coach:

The Princeton offense, you have to know how to play the game of basketball. It’s like the triangle, a lot of similarities. I know that Kobe’s very familiar with it. But there’s different varieties to the Princeton offense. There’s like five different sets that you can call the Princeton offense. And we won’t get into all of them, and we won’t even try to work on all of them. Like I said, it’s going to be a mixture of things that I think can make this team more successful.

Scott recently sat down with Mike Trudell for Lakers.com, talking about a range of basketball topics. Naturally, the subject of defense came up. Trudell pointed out the lack of rim protectors on the roster and asked the new coach how he’ll compensate for that. Scott talked about stopping dribble penetration before it even gets that far:

You’re going to have to play a lot of help the helper to keep the ball from getting into the paint. That’s a lot of rotations, a lot of help, a lot of stunt and recover, where the guy with the ball sees one-and-a-half or two defenders every single time. You want to clog up the paint as much as possible and make the opponent take contested jump shots.

Writing for Forum Blue and Gold, Darius Soriano compared how bad the Lakers were on the defensive end last season to what Scott will be asking of his players:

Playing defense in the scheme that he describes is as much about want as it is ability. Players have to want to make the extra rotation; they have to want to be there for a teammate and not let the integrity of the scheme fail because of their personal mistake. When you combine that want with discipline—and a bunch of it—you are on the path to where you want to go.

One player that will be on the same path with Scott is Kobe Bryant, still the team’s franchise star and eager to get back onto the floor after sitting out all but six games last season due to injury. Bryant is as fierce and competitive a player as there is in basketball, even at age 36. This will be a full-circle season for Bryant in many ways—as a rookie, 18 long years ago, he was mentored by none other than Scott.

The two share a passion for the game and a work ethic that owes to an earlier era. And for all the impetuousness that Bryant displayed during his younger days, his greatest successes have always come out of structure and discipline—like the famed system of basketball preached by his former coach, Phil Jackson.

Despite his Zen trappings, Jackson’s core basketball philosophies are traditional. As a player for the New York Knicks, he learned about motivation from his coach, Red Holzman. And when Jackson joined the Chicago Bulls as a coach, he embraced the triangle system that had been pioneered by Sam Barry at USC and was later refined by Tex Winter, who played for Barry during the 1940s.

Winter passed his knowledge on to Jackson, and the two won a whole lot of rings together.

Years later, these circular patterns continue, with Scott returning to an organization where he won three championships as a player. Is it simply coincidence that he now compares the offense he’ll be using to the one that added five more banners to the Staples Center rafters under Jackson?

Perhaps coincidences and ironies are beside the point. Scott is bringing a traditionalist approach back to Lakers basketball, and after a season with the most losses in the team’s franchise history, it’s time to refocus on the basics.

This doesn’t mean the game won’t still be fun. Nick “Swaggy P” Young will continue to celebrate after baskets made and Bryant—despite being older and perhaps slower—will still put on signature displays of basketball brilliance. Jeremy Lin will attempt to create some new history, three years after his apex with the Knicks, and rookie Julius Randle will bull his way to the basket and score his first points in the NBA.

And if Scott has his way, the points scored will come after stops made rather than the notion of simply trying to sink more shots than the other guys.

That said, fun has its place on the court and after wins. But there also has to be accountability. As Scott said during his press conference, “When you lose games, you shouldn’t be sitting in the locker room having a good time. It should hurt.”

There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s going to restore traditional principles and bring back Laker pride.

And his name is Byron Scott.

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Hawks’ Scott earns new deal with scoring surge (Yahoo Sports)

The Atlanta Hawks have re-signed Mike Scott, who improved his 3-point shot in his second season and almost doubled his scoring average. Scott, a second-round pick from Virginia in 2012, averaged 9.6 points last season, up from 4.6 as a rookie. Scott made 62 of 200 3-point attempts last season after missing his only 3 as a rookie.

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Lakers News: Byron Scott Is Smart to Make Julius Randle’s Development a Priority

On a team that is not expected to be very good, the Los Angeles Lakers must focus on developing for the future. Fortunately, new head coach Byron Scott seems to understand where the priorities are.

In an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, the coach had a lot of good things to say about first-round pick Julius Randle:

I see a young man that’s raw, but he has great feet and great quickness for his size, and he’s strong as a bull. You can tell that he wants to get better. Next week we’ll have a better idea, because he’ll be in better shape and be able to work even harder. But I love those attributes, being strong, big and quick for his size. That’s a very good combination to have.

This is not the first time Scott had good things to say about the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft, who he considered a steal:

He also compared him to Zach Randolph during an interview on The Dan Patrick Show:

However, the most important part of his talk with Trudell came when discussing playing time for the rookie, saying, ”Julius will get plenty of chances to play a lot of minutes. We know he’s a rookie and needs to develop, and a lot of that will come in training camp and in practice. I think he’ll do just that.” 

The problem many players have in their first season is simply getting onto the court. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett, came under a lot of scrutiny for his poor numbers, but a lot of that was due to only getting 12.8 minutes per game. With his numbers per 36 minutes, Bennett averaged a respectable 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Still, young prospects need playing time in order to improve. You can only learn so much in practice, but learning through mistakes can help you speed up your development. Not every rookie has that luxury, especially those on teams looking to contend for titles.

This is what makes Randle’s situation such an encouraging one. While everyone wants to be on a winning team, a squad that finished 27-55 and lost Pau Gasol is likely headed toward another losing season. Even with Carlos Boozer and a healthy Kobe Bryant, this could be a long year in Los Angeles.

Shane Young of Hoops Habit thinks Randle will get extra minutes despite a number of other players capable of playing the position:

Even if he struggles, just getting him on the floor will give him a chance to improve. This is more important for the Lakers’ success in the future than winning a few more games in 2014-15.

On the plus side, Randle appears ready to be productive right away. Will Brinson of CBS Sports agreed with Scott’s assertion that the Lakers got a steal with their draft pick:

The forward showed off his ability in summer league after dominating college basketball as a freshman for Kentucky. He has loads of natural skill and the strength to be a force in the low post. Veterans like Bryant and Boozer will also help him get to where he needs to be.

Scott needs to do whatever it takes to help Randle reach his potential as a perennial All-Star. This should be one of the top priorities of the season, even if it comes at the expense of winning games. The fact the coach is willing to work with the young player and get him on the floor is a great sign for the future.

 

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5 LA Lakers Players Who Will Thrive Under Byron Scott

There are a couple of players who should thrive under new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott.

More specifically, guards will enjoy their time under the tutelage of Scott. In his previous stops, he’s put the ball in the hands of his backcourt players and gotten them to perform quite well.

Many will quickly point out that he was lucky to coach Stephon Marbury, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, and there’s certainly some truth to that.

However, he’s also managed to get the best out of castoffs like Dan Dickau, Kerry Kittles, Ramon Sessions, Desmond Mason and Speedy Claxton to name a few.

Scott-led teams have always favored the transition game and relied on the decision making of its backcourt players. It’s probably safe to say Scott won’t waver from his core principles and will run the offense through his guards. Let’s take a look at the specific Lakers that should enjoy good seasons under Scott.

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Byron Scott gives initial thoughts on Lakers roster via Twitter

Newly hired Lakers Coach Byron Scott took over the team’s Twitter feed Friday, giving his thoughts on the team’s prospects this season.

His top priority, Scott wrote, is “to get our team to play defense on a consistent basis every single night.”

That’s a welcome thought. given the Lakers gave up 109.2 points per game last season.

How does he intend to make that happen?

“Accountability is obviously the first step. Desire & dedication are the next steps,” Scott wrote.

The Lakers announced Scott’s hiring on July 28. As a player, Scott contributed to three NBA titles during the Showtime era.

In his final season in the league as a player, 1996-97, Scott was a teammate of Kobe Bryant.

“He was the most mature 18-year-old I had ever come across. He kind of kept to himself,” Scott wrote of Bryant.

Scott has an idea how he wants to deploy Bryant along with point guards Jeremy Lin and Steve Nash.
lRelated Byron Scott sees tough road ahe…

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Lakers’ Byron Scott: ‘It’s going to be a tough road’

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of an incredibly disappointing season last year due to injuries, and they are expected to have yet another difficult season this season. Kobe Bryant will be back, which is always a plus, but the roster as a whole is simply not talented enough to compete in the Western Conference. New head coach Byron Scott talked to the media about the difficulty of the upcoming season. “I expect us to compete every night,” said Byron Scott on radio Thursday to “The Dan Patrick Show, via the LA Times. “The Lakers are “going to play a tough, physical brand of basketball and we’re going to play defense. ” “It’s going to be a tough road for us,” he added. “We have a lot of work to do. I don’t know how good we’re going to be.  I’ve got a lot of guys that I don’t really know.  I’ve got to get to know these guys and see what makes them tick — but I’ve got one guy that I do know what makes him tick and that’s a great piece to have.” There’s no denying

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Kobe Bryant Makes Byron Scott the Right Choice for Los Angeles Lakers Coach

It’s hard to imagine anyone being cut from the same cloth as Kobe Bryant, but Los Angeles Lakers coaching candidate Byron Scott seems to be at least made up of the same material.

The two formed a bond during the 1996-97 season—Bryant’s first and Scott’s last—and its ties remain as strong as ever.

As Scott explained to USA Today‘s Sam Amick, there’s a mutual respect between him and Bryant rooted in history, transparency and a similar appreciation for the way the game should be played:

Kobe knows all about me and what I’m about. He knows that I’m an old-school coach who’s very demanding on the defensive end and knows that defense and rebounding wins championships, so I think from that point of view we see eye to eye.

Our relationship is great. We talked over the summer. We text each other. His ideas on the game of basketball and my ideas on the game of basketball are a lot alike, so we share a lot of the same views when it comes to the way the game should be played. So to me, it’s going to be fun.

Scott can check off several boxes on the Lakers’ coaching wish list, including experience with the profession and a commitment to the defensive end. Of course, L.A. could find those qualities in another candidate, like former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins or NBA lifer Mike Dunleavy.

What L.A. cannot recreate with another applicant, though, is that relationship with Bryant. That’s kind of a big deal, considering general manager Mitch Kupchak already detailed the importance of the franchise’s next coach connecting with its brightest star.

“We have to make sure that whoever we hire as a coach can really get the most productivity out of him, whether it’s scoring the ball or playmaking or the threat that he may score,” Kupchak told reporters. “That’s probably of primary importance right now.”

Bryant’s status as L.A.’s most important player might feel like a formality. After all, he’s one of just three players holding a guaranteed contract for next season, along with Steve Nash and Robert Sacre.

Yet Bryant’s position won’t change regardless how the Lakers fill out the rest of their roster. Not with the $48.5 million headed his way over the next two seasons, via ShamSports.com.

Someone will need to earn the trust of a 35-year-old who has secured five world titles and appeared in 14 All-Star Games for doing things his way. Scott, however, has already cleared that hurdle.

That’s why it comes as little surprise that he “has emerged as the leading candidate” for the position, as sources told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. Chris Broussard of ESPN has also heard similar things about Scott’s standing in this race:

While Shelburne notes that the process still isn’t far enough along for the two sides to talk financial figures, there seems to be a consensus that Scott is the clubhouse leader at this stage.

Considering the relationship he already has with Bryant, Scott is holding that favorable position for a reason.

If the Lakers have any shot at competing for something of substance during Bryant’s twilight years, it will start with maximizing the Mamba’s production. The Lakers need him to be elite for them to enjoy a similar status.

That might seem like a stretch considering where he’s at in his career. He’s had to endure a pair of serious leg injuries (first a torn Achilles, then a knee fracture), which cost him all but six games last season.

However, in 2012-13, he was still one of the NBA’s premier producers. He averaged 27.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting to go along with six assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He finished that campaign in the top 10 in both player efficiency rating (23.0, tied for ninth) and win shares (10.9, tied for eighth), via Basketball-Reference.com.

He’ll need his body to cooperate in order to post numbers anywhere close to those levels, but if it does, he could reclaim his spot among the game’s greats.

That’s what the Lakers have to be hoping for. Even if they had other motivations behind handing him that massive contract extension, they’d still love to see his production validate that cost.

While Bryant still has a shot at putting up notable numbers, he’ll likely need to continue to evolve as a player to keep building those box scores. He can’t get back the physical tools he’s already lost to Father Time. He’ll need his strength and smarts to help replace the speed and explosiveness he used to unleash.

Some might recognize that need sooner than Bryant. That could lead to some potentially awkward conversations, the kind that are far easier to have between friends than coworkers.

Scott isn’t afraid of having those uncomfortable talks. He’s already sent a challenge Bryant’s way despite not officially grabbing the coaching seat:

Scott could step in and immediately have some pull with Bryant. Mike D’Antoni spent nearly two full seasons with Bryant and never seemed to build that bridge.

Scott isn’t just Bryant’s buddy, though. He’s a well-qualified candidate in his own right, with a resume that speaks for itself.

“Scott had some success in his first head coaching gig, taking the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003,” NBC Sports’ Brett Pollakoff noted. “He then coached five full seasons in New Orleans, peaking with a run to the second round of the playoffs in the 2008 season.”

By his own admission, he’s demanding. That’s exactly what the Lakers need after last season’s unsightly 27-win performance.

I’m not a screamer, I’m intense and I’m a perfectionist,” Scott said of his coaching style in 2000, via Thomas Bonk of the Los Angeles Times.

An intense perfectionist? Yeah, that certainly sounds like Bryant’s style.

If Scott is such a great fit, why hasn’t a contract offer been extended yet? Frankly, there’s no need to rush.

The Lakers have a roster to build, starting with the seventh overall selection in Thursday’s draft. They have the cap space to fill their remaining ranks however they see fit and need more pieces in place before determining whether Scott is the right man to steer the ship.

He’ll wait for them to make that call. He spent 11 of his 14 seasons as a player with the Lakers, so grabbing the coaching reigns would be nothing short of a dream job.

With the knowledge that his relationship with Bryant gives him a leg up on the competition, his wait might not be as stressful as it would seem. Not when both he and the Lakers know how important it is for Bryant to approve of the next head coach.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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Report: Byron Scott leading candidate for Lakers job

The leading candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job is former star Byron Scott, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The Lakers remain focused on Thursday’s draft and the start of free agency July 1, and have not talked with the former Nets and Cavaliers coach about a contract. According to the report, the Lakers are considering waiting to hire a coach until after they make their pitches to free agents. The possibility of soliciting opinions of free agents before making a hire is a large part of the reason the Lakers have taken such a deliberate approach to their coaching search since Mike D’Antoni resigned after the season. Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is also considered a strong candidate for the job. The post Report: Byron Scott leading candidate for Lakers job appeared first on Sports Glory.

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Hawks’ Mike Scott Drains 3-Pointer Without His Shoe

Atlanta Hawks power forward Mike Scott is showing some promise coming off the bench in his second season in the NBA.

During Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, he lost his shoe, but that didn’t keep him from draining a three-pointer late in the first quarter.

The Hawks lost 111-97, but Scott had a solid game with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting.

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Mike Scott, Hawks snap skid against Knicks

Mike Scott’s career night helps Atlanta get past New York 107-98.

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