D-Fenders Coaches Lead Lakers in Vegas for 2008 NBA Summer League

When the 2008 NBA Summer League presented by EA Sports began, the Los Angeles Lakers squad brought with them something that is the first in the five-year history of the NBA Summer League. The Lakers entry into the NBA Summer Leaguewas coached exclusively by the D-Fenders coaching staff (their D-League affiliate). D-Fenders head coach Dan Panaggio and his assistants Chucky Brown and Rasheed Hazzard, who led the D-Fenders to a 32-18 mark good for the second best record in the D-League, were chosen to lead the Lakers in Vegas.

Although they are D-League coaches, they do not lack experience with the NBA game. Panaggio spent four years as an assistant coach with the Portland Trailblazers from 2000-2004 and was a head coach for the Blazers Summer League team twice as well as acting as an assistant coach four times (three with the Portland, and one last summer as an assistant with the Lakers). Brown, who spent 13 years in the NBA with 12 different teams, will be coaching in his first Summer League along with fellow rookie Summer League Coach Rasheed Hazzard.

According to Panaggio, the trio got the opportunity to come to Vegas due to the successful season of the Lakers, including a long playoff run and a trip to the 2008 NBA Finals. “I think we owe it to the fact that the Lakers made it all the way to the Finals and would have had a real quick turnaround. So Phil probably thought that some of those assistants needed some family time, which I think is great, and so we get the opportunity,” he stated.

Assistant Chucky Brown is also thrilled to be in Vegas due to the successful season of the Lakers. “The Lakers Coaches had a long season and needed a little time off and we were fortunate enough to be asked to do it and it has been a great experience,” then he added with one of those patented Chucky Brown smiles “and I’m glad they couldn’t do it.”

With the Lakers taking 15 guys to Vegas, the D-Fenders coaching staff had little time to waste in teaching them the intricacies of the Lakers and D-Fenders famous “Triangle Offense” as well as the philosophy of the team’s defensive system. Brown was impressed with the way the guys were performing noting, “I liked what Joe Crawford did, I liked what Coby Karl did, I like Dwayne Mitchell’s intensity on defense, and I like Nik Caner-Medley’s intensity. There were quite a few guys who I got to see play that I haven’t had a chance to watch this closely.”

While the coaches are hard at work in Las Vegas, this is not the only basketball activities they had planned for the summer. Brown attended the D-League Pre Draft Camp in Suwanee, Georgia earlier in the summer and joined Panaggio in Orlando, Florida for the 2008 NBA Pre Draft Camp. “Scouting, working players out and little bit of rest here and there,” said Panaggio describing the typical offseason for a coach. “Basketball and family, that’s my summer,” proclaimed Brown, who is looking forward to going back home to North Carolina to spend the rest of the summer with his wife and three daughters before he heads back to LA to get ready for the D-Fenders upcoming season.

The Lakers finished 2-4 in Summer League action and were led by (D-Fenders alum) Coby Karl’s 13.8 points per game, Lorenzo Mata-Real’s 6.5 rebounds a game, and (D-League alum) Dwayne Mitchell’s hot hand, who shot 61.9% from the field.