"I’m extremely excited to have John join the team as a member of my coaching staff," said Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown. "Having previously worked together in Cleveland, I know what assets he will bring to the team. His ability to effectively communicate with the players while teaching them valuable skills on both ends of the court is a quality that I respect and value. I look forward to working with him again."
OK, now that we’ve had our laugh at Kuester’s expense, let’s move on to the meat of the issue for the Lakers.
John Kuester as an offensive coordinator
It’s a bit funny to me that John Kuester has been labeled an offensive coach. Before his final season as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers, 2008-09, he’d always stressed defense first. But then-Cleveland coach Mike Brown wanted someone to improve the Cavaliers offense and turned to Kuester.
It worked. Cleveland’s offensive rating improved from 20th to fourth, and Kuester’s reputation changed. He became known as offensive guru, a label he carried to Detroit.
It doesn’t appear he’ll shake that tag in Los Angeles anytime soon. The Orange County Register:
The Lakers are expected to have Kuester, regarded as an excellent offensive coach, in charge of offense and Phil Jackson holdover Chuck Person in charge of defense — with Jim Boylen also a full-time assistant on the bench.
Kuester’s meek personality made him a poor head coach, but it doesn’t matter as much as an assistant coach.* He’s a much better fit further down the bench, and I think he’s become a good fit as an offensive coordinator, too.
*At least, it usually doesn’t matter for assistant coaches. But now that Kuester has been exposed as someone the players feel they can walk over, it might matter now in Los Angeles. Usually, assistant coaches never have a real chance to display their shortcomings. It will be important for Kuester that Kobe Bryant treats him with respect, because then, the other Lakers will fall in line.
The Pistons didn’t have a group of players who complemented each other well last season, and although that problem hindered their defense more than their offense, it certainly affected both ends. Even though everyone expected the Pistons to run an isolation offense, Kuester didn’t settle. He tinkered and adjusted and schemed throughout the season.
The Pistons never had an offensive identity, but they did a lot of things:
- The ran a lot of isolations or drive-and-kicks with Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum to to setup their jump-shooters (Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye).
- They ran a lot of isolations, both on the perimeter and in the post, for Tayshaun Prince.
- They ran a lot of pick-and-rolls with Tracy McGrady and Greg Monroe or Chris Wilcox.
- They ran a lot of plays through Wilcox, Ben Wallace or Monroe in the high post.
- They ran a lot of plays designed to keep Monroe, Wilcox and Wallace free to crash the offensive glass.
Somehow, that hodgepodge ranked 15th in offensive rating – pretty great for the Pistons’ lowly standards.
Will it work in Los Angeles? Maybe, but I don’t expect the Lakers to run the same offense. What Kuester did with the Cavaliers and a clear central player, LeBron James, is probably a better guide for Kobe and the Lakers.
But Kuester’s time in Detroit showed a willingness to adjust and ability vary his schemes. That should serve the Lakers well.
Kuester’s track record suggests he’s a good, but not necessarily great, offensive coach. Most teams don’t get someone like that to work as an assistant.
The Lakers did well to nab Kuester.
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