So, the Lakers settled for Mike D’Antoni rather than caving to Phil Jackson’s demands to coach the team again. It caused a big Hollywood drama.
A lot of critics are saying DA’s offense can’t work with the older players in Los Angeles, and they point to his days with the Suns.
In Phoenix, the Suns averaged 94, 110, 110, 108, 110, and 110 points per game. Now, it would just be silly to think D’Antoni is going to run this team ragged with older players such as Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, and Pau Gasol. That would be foolish because they would be gassed once the playoffs start.
But D’Antoni made adjustments to his offense when he coached the Knicks because he didn’t have the same personnel he had in Phoenix.
In four years in N.Y., the Knicks averaged 105.2, 102.1, 106.5, and 97.8 points per game. They ran at times, but they never scored as much as his Suns teams did and there is a reason for that. Like any good coach, D’Antoni tweaked the offense and they ran a lot of halfcourt sets and pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire.
Felton had a career-best season 17.1 points and nine assists. In 2006 with the Suns, they went 54-28 in the regular season and lost in six games in the Western Conference finals to the Dallas Mavericks. That team had Nash, Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw, and Raja Bell. Amare played in just three games all season due to microfracture surgery on his knee.
The Lakers also have more talent in L.A. with Nash, Kobe, Howard, and Gasol as a fourth option if he isn’t traded) than the Knicks or the Suns ever had. Sure, the Lakers will run when Nash sees the opportunity, but Nash being an extension of DA on the court will also slow it down to save wear and tear on the veteran players.
L.A. has a very good team and will be a team to be reckoned with come playoff time, especially with Oklahoma City missing James Harden and the Spurs getting older and fighting injuries. The team the Lakers need to watch out for is the other Staples Center tenant — the Clippers.
We could easily see a Lakers-Clippers matchup in the conference finals if the Lakers can adjust to the D’Antoni system.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org