Coach Phil Jackson's teams have finished first or second in the division and won at least one playoff series in all but one of his 14 NBA seasons (1994-95).
Record: 34-48 (T10 in West) Points scored: 98.7 (12th in NBA) Points allowed: 101.7 (27th) Coach: Phil Jackson (sixth season with the Lakers)
Elementary geometry: Can the new big man pick up the triangle?
Kwame Brown sure seems like an old 23. With the Wizards he was dissed by Michael Jordan, claimed he stayed away from a practice because he was so incensed at teammate Gilbert Arenas that he would have decked him, and was written off by NBA execs and the media as a Gen X slacker. But the 6'11" Brown, a power forward who was the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft, is now toiling in the Land of Second Chances under the tutelage of Phil Jackson and the watchful eye of teammate Kobe Bryant, who knows something about being in the crosshairs of public opinion.
Will Kwame be able to find himself while wearing the purple-and-gold? The fortunes of the Lakers may not totally depend upon this beleaguered lad, but if L.A. is to return to the playoffs (Jackson's stated goal), Brown's production at least needs to surpass the numbers (7.7 points, 5.5 rebounds) he put up in his tortured four-year career in Washington, the first two of which he played with Jordan, who questioned his work habits.
"Kwame is just physically so talented," says Bryant. "It becomes a matter of making leaps and bounds to the veteran game, the mental game. Phil and the coaching staff are [so] good at teaching [that] game that Kwame is going to pick up more. When he does, he's going to do some big things."
But that's what everyone has been saying about Brown since Jordan, then Washington's president, plucked him straight out of Georgia's Glynn Academy. At week's end Brown was still confused by the Lakers' triangle offense. If he doesn't figure it out by, say, mid-December, having Jackson in one ear and Kobe in the other will make Jordan's taunts sound like a lullaby. -- Jack McCallum