Evan’s Take: Why the Los Angeles Lakers need to hire Mark Jackson  

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Los Angeles Lakers Malik Monk gestures after hitting a 3-point-basket against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Denver. Photo by David Zalubowski/AP Photo.

When Mark Jackson was signed in 2011 to be the next head coach of a Golden State Warriors team that had not reached the playoffs since the remarkable run of the “We Believe” Warriors in 2007, the team was praying for a turnaround.  

This was a squad that featured a young guard with blooming potential named Stephen Curry and new owners in Joe Lacob and Peter Guber who, at the end of the day, wanted to bring back winning basketball to Oakland. It was also a lineup that ranked in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating.  

So when Jackson was dismissed from the franchise in 2014 after fixed plenty of the problems in Oakland, there was no bad blood. After all, he did oversee the rise of Curry into an All-Star player, brought in one of the greatest shooters of all-time in Klay Thompson, grabbed a defensive juggernaut in Draymond Green and, most importantly, turned Golden State into a respected defensive lineup in the NBA and a consistent playoff contender. 

In 2022, Jackson hasn’t coached in the NBA since he helped develop the Warriors into a feared team. Today, the NBA is not the same league that Jackson once coached in. The playing style has vastly changed, with plenty of alterations, including the rise of the 3-point shot and a new evolution of big men such as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia 76ers MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Miami Heat superstar Bam Adebayo. 

It’s also a much different looking Los Angeles Lakers team that Jackson once saw in 2014. 

When the Lakers failed to make the play-in tournament and ultimately fired head coach Frank Vogel, the team had to look for new options to fill the position. It was a season in Hollywood that saw controversy, poor play and injuries derail a once promising outlook for a team that had high expectations for itself coming into the year.  

Just like the 2011 Warriors lineup that Jackson was tasked to rebuild, today’s Los Angeles Lakers have a huge defensive problem on their hands.  

If there’s someone who I think would be a great fit for Los Angeles and can fix these problems, it’s Jackson. While many of the problems the Lakers faced this year may not have been entirely Vogel’s fault, the team certainly needs a new face and a different looking lineup for next year. It needs a face that can have a major voice in the front office and coaching. 

While Los Angeles does not have an ideal situation for future success with its current draft pick situation, Jackson can certainly be a great option for opinions on talent. Having an NBA mind like Jackson giving his opinions on possible trades or potential draft picks for the Lakers is a step in the right direction to bring the team back into contention for success.  

You also can’t forget about the Lakers young talent, like Austin Reaves and Talen Horton-Tucker. Reaves showed great potential for Los Angeles this year, and having the team take his potential even further would obviously be great. Even though Horton-Tucker didn’t have ideal shooting percentages this season for the Lakers, it would be interesting to see a system under Jackson where he could potentially play better basketball. 

Then, there’s the issue of having to deal with stars like LeBron James. James, while always being a valuable contributor to the Lakers when healthy, faces a tough decision on his future of staying with the team. In the team’s current state, it’s hard to envision a future with James in the picture. On the possibility of acquiring Jackson to be the new face of coaching in Los Angeles, the all-time great would be “very enthused” on the potential of the coach coming to Crypto Arena, according to The Athletic. With Jackson’s history of success, and James’ obvious interest in bringing Jackson to coach, this seems like a match made in heaven. 

Anthony Davis was always a huge storyline during the season. Often hurt, Davis wasn’t able to make his intended impact during the season; the big man’s 41 games off the court played a major part in the end result of a failed season. Getting players to help pick up the massive hole left by Davis is no easy task, especially on the defensive side of the court. The team had a defensive rating of 110.3 with Davis on the court, while the Lakers carried a 117.7 defensive rating without him, according to Statmuse. Having a defense-minded coach like Jackson could certainly be a breath of fresh air for a Lakers team that clearly needs help on that side of the court. 

When talking about the Lakers, Russell Westbrook was one of the first names to come to mind last season. Whether it was stretches of poor play or his personality after games, Westbrook was vocal after the season about not having a fair chance in Los Angeles, according to reporter Ryan Ward. I believe that having a player-friendly coach like Jackson would be a great support to Westbrook’s game — if the team were to keep him on the roster in light of the bundle of trade rumors swirling around. 

At the end of the day, in order to see the full impact of Jackson’s decisions in Los Angeles, he needs to have a voice. Jackson will not be able to fix many mistakes with the Lakers without being able to truly have a major stake in everything he needs, such as lineups, trades, and free agent acquisitions. These problems plagued Vogel during his recent time with the Lakers as he attempted to fix many defensive problems that the Lakers faced time and again.  

Regardless of the potential hiring of Jackson or not, there is no doubt that Los Angeles will need to reexamine itself this offseason, especially in its front office.  

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