A few of the knocks on Mike D’Antoni in his past two coaching stops with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks were that he doesn’t make during games, he has a short rotation and that he ignores defense. After his first handful of games as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers D’Antoni is already guilty of two of those three things.
During the game on Sunday against the Orlando Magic, D’Antoni let the game get away by not taking Dwight Howard out for a brief moment while the Magic purposely fouled him before the Lakers could get into its offense. I’m not suggesting that D’Antoni should bench Howard, but when your team needs to find rhythm and you are getting empty possessions there needs to be some sort of adjustments made.
The great coaches in the history of the league coach to the strengths of their players, not to the strength of their systems. For instance, Greg Popovich has coached the San Antonio Spurs for well over a decade now and has been successful with two different styles of play.
During the first part of his tenure with the Spurs Popovich was known for a slow, methodical plan of attack on offense. Nowadays the Spurs are known for their high scoring games and even entertaining style. That comes from great coaching and experience.
As much as Coach D’Antoni is liked for his style of coaching, a big part of his tenure with the Lakers will be predicated on if he can make the proper adjustments with this team. The roster is deep enough to not play guys over 32 minutes unless absolutely needed. The Lakers have the talent to go very far this year, but if D’Antoni is unable to make the proper adjustments they will falter like the last two years.
It’s unfair to judge Coach D’Antoni after just a few games but there are certain things coaches are known for that stick out more often than not. For Mike Brown it was his player rotations, unwillingness to adapt and his defensive background that ultimately got him fired by the Lakers. It was very similar with what we all saw with the Cleveland Cavaliers. D’Antoni has time on his side but he’s going to have to improve on his shortcomings in order to get this Lakers team over the top.