One of the most controversial moves that the Los Angeles Lakers made this season, and perhaps ever, was their hiring of head coach Mike D’Antoni. The last time D’Antoni was on the NBA scene both he and the New York Knicks had decided to “mutually part ways.” The last image Laker fans had in their heads was basically their new head coach getting fired. Nobody believes that bogus mutually parting ways story. The last image Laker fans had for their alternative candidate for the vacant head coaching position was a disappointing playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Still though, Laker fans wanted the alternative. However, I guess when you’ve won 11 championships, your name is Phil Jackson, and you’ve cemented yourself in Laker lore. It doesn’t matter what the last image fans had of you is. I personally think hiring Jackson would not have made that much of a difference. I think the game had finally passed him by, but that’s just my opinion.
What Phil would have done though, probably better than anyone currently coaching in the NBA and certainly better than D’Antoni, is adjust his system to fit the players on the roster. Whether that would have equated to another Lakers championship is unknown. What will be known by the time the playoffs come around, if the Lakers even make it that far, is if D’Antoni can swallow his pride and abandon his ideology that there is no need for a center to clog up the lane.
In case D’Antoni doesn’t know, the Lakers second biggest weapon is the guy who is cloggin the lane, Dwight Howard. When Kobe is having off nights it seems that instead of letting the only other guy on the team capable of taking over a game offensively take over. The Lakers continue to go to what isn’t working, Kobe Bryant. An Eastern Conference scout recently said that Dwight Howard is, “not totally committed to being there and playing that system.”
He continues by saying, “Under Mike Brown, he was going to be a focal point. When you make the coaching change and move to the style of play D’Antoni prefers, it doesn’t include making sure the ball goes through Dwight and back out in order to get the offense going. His effort has been comical at times. He wants the ball but has no intention of working for it.”
If that is not evidence for you that D’Antoni needs to change his offense, adjusting it to a style more suitable for the player who holds the Lakers future in his hands, here’s what one Western Conference executive said, “If you listed the 10 best offenses to run for the Lakers’ personnel, the two they’ve tried to run — the Princeton offense and D’Antoni’s offense — would be near the bottom. That’s their biggest problem.”
So why hasn’t D’Antoni made the transition to another offense? Well it mostly has to do with the fact that it is probably too late to do so. Additionally, D’Antoni’s offense is built around the idea that you don’t need a center in the lane. It has no alternative options for a center in the low post. It’s like trying to press the play button on an Ipod, except the play button has been ripped out, it isn’t an option. If D’Antoni continues to ignore the importance of Howard in the low post he will be exiting from the playoffs early. Worse for D’Antoni though, his tenure as Lakers head coach would probably end soon after that.
DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @NBAINSIDERINFO