D-Fenders Introduce Madsen as New Head Coach
By Trevor Wong | @trevor_wong
Former Lakers forward Mark Madsen has returned to Los Angeles, this time as the new head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
The Lakers selected Madsen in the first round (29th overall) out of Stanford in the 2000 NBA draft, helping them win back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002 to complete the "3-peat" run.
“It’s great to be back here,” Madsen said at his introductory press conference. “The L.A. D-Fenders, in a short history, has a rich tradition of developing players, of helping develop the Laker players and of winning. It’s the goal we all share, from (D-Fenders President) Joey (Buss), (D-Fenders GM) Glen (Carraro) to myself, to continue on that tradition, build it and continue to create a great fan experience here at the Toyota Sports Center.”
That tradition has translated to 10 different players having received Call-Ups to the NBA in the D-Fenders seven-year history. The Lakers have also used their affiliate to develop nine assignment players. Most recently, rookie Robert Sacre and second-year guard Darius Morris spent time with the D-Fenders. Having previously experienced all of the roster turnover unique to the D-League firsthand as an assistant coach with the Utah Flash, Madsen has a vision of his own plan for the upcoming year now that he's in the head seat.
“The first thing is we’re going to get the very, very best players,” Madsen allowed. “That’s going to be through tremendous due diligence through the draft process and done through the tryout process here in Los Angeles. We’re going to work closely with coach Mike D’Antoni, and we’re going to primarily utilize the same sets, same system and same philosophy. The L.A. D-Fenders is a great organization to help the Laker players that need some extra repetitions, need some live game minutes, and the D-League is a great league for that.”
Madsen believes his playing experience, and trying to develop guys will help in getting through to those hopeful of trying to make the NBA dream a reality.
“Even though we haven’t finalized or really started the process of the finalization of the roster,” he explained, “I feel connected to the players because I can relate to their journey and what they’re trying to accomplish with their goals.”
This past year, the D-Fenders missed the playoffs under former coach Reggie Theus. But during the 2011-12 season, the D-Fenders posted the best record in D-League history at 38-12, including equaling the best home record at 21-4. L.A. fell short in the D-League Finals to the Austin Toros, but developed six Call-Ups (Courtney Fortson, Gerald Green, Jamario Moon, Ishmael Smith, Malcolm Thomas, Jamaal Tinsley). It is Madsen’s hope to bring the D-Fenders back to that level of success.
“The goal is two-fold,” he explained. “Win the D-League championship and have as many guys called up to NBA teams, and help the current Laker teams that are sent to the D-League for development to help them as much as possible.”