Mike D’Antoni: From The Exit Of Slowtime To The Return Of Showtime

Mike D’Antoni: From The Exit Of Slowtime To The Return Of Showtime


In all fairness, the offense had already shown some signs of life prior to Mike Brown’s firing, but nowhere near the levels it will likely see under the guidance of Mike D’Antoni. On Sunday, I was asked what a Mike D’Antoni team would look like, and even though I didn’t see it coming, I remarked that Staples Center would finally rock to levels of respectability. The crowd may still filter in throughout the first quarter (initially), but before the playoffs are upon us, the excitement of what this offense will look like could reach Great Western Forum levels.

While Steve Nash was already a reputable player in Dallas, he never played more effectively or to anywhere near as high of a level as he did when playing for D’Antoni in Phoenix. I’m sure all of Lakers Nation remembers the results of the playoffs in 2006 and 2007.

In my 28-plus years of watching this team, I don’t remember too many moments more disappointing than dropping that unexpected but well earned 3-1 lead in 2006. It wasn’t the low-point of the franchise, but definitely a heart-shredding situation. You know, with D’Antoni’s addition, games in Phoenix (Jan 30th, March 18th) may just be a ticket-worthy road-trip.

The excitement and hype that followed this team into training camp might just quadruple if D’Antoni’s system matches Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant as much as I think it could. Not only that, the bench could look much different if they were able to provide an energy boost each night. Jodie Meeks could certainly be helped into his shooting ‘stride’ by getting out on the break and scoring a few easy buckets.

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Prior to the season, (like many) I questioned whether Darius Morris was a good fit for this roster. While the past two games is a small sample size, his improved play and his skill set make him an even more likely candidate for minutes at the backup PG position with D’Antoni’s desire to get up and down the court in a hurry. If he can continue to limit his turnovers and determine the appropriate situations to attack, Morris could be the type of player to really flourish under D’Antoni. Let’s hope the same can be said of Devin Ebanks. As eager as I am to see Metta World Peace succeed, we can all acknowledge the need for some youth and athleticism at the position when MWP rests.

Full disclosure, I was in favor of Phil Jackson. When I sat back and analyzed the pro’s and con’s of each candidate, I simply had less reservations with a third installment of the Zen Master. That said, I left room in my basketball-loving heart for the notion of D’Antoni leading this organization into the future. Jackson may have sounded more like an immediate fix, but armed with this offensive firepower, D’Antoni’s system should lead to relatively instant success. The jury will still be out upon whether he can coach and lead a team to a title from a defensive perspective, but I’m willing to give the man a chance before I condemn him based on what has taken place in the past. It is an opportunity I was kind enough to afford Mike Brown, so it will be the same stance I take with D’Antoni.

One thing Lakers Nation will have to find a way to excuse, will be the turnovers. We all love the excitement of wheeling and dealing on the fast break, but with increased tempos also come a realistic possibility of the team nearing 16-18 turnovers on a nightly basis. Generally, the increased shot attempts and defensive turnovers that can also be generated from the frenzied pace can off-set such a number. Nash, himself, averaged nearly 3.5 per game while playing in the system. Not nitpicking in the slightest, but warning of potential concerns. I would like to see Bryant and Nash stay beneath 2.5 (a piece) if at all possible, since they’ll be the primary ball handlers.

Rather than questioning D’Antoni’s defensive schemes based upon his past results, I’m intrigued to see what his assistant coach roster will look like. There are rumors he will retain the services of Chuck Person and Phil Handy from Mike Brown’s staff. I’ll be very intrigued to see what type of defensive specialist the Lakers will bring in, a la Mike Woodson role during D’Antoni’s New York stint. I’m not certain what to fully expect from this team, but I’m eternally optimistic.

While D’Antoni may not have been the safe pick with the fan base, the organization seems to have a direction in mind. Far from perfect, but I would still take this brain trust over any other. I believe in the legacy and foundation of the organization, and will continue to support it. Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family have always found a way, so I think they’ve earned our patience at the very least. One thing Jim Buss has shown would be an ability to acknowledge and correct a mistake, especially if it could lead to the success of the franchise. Let’s hope that this is one of those corrections, rather than additional ammunition for his detractors.

  • Yellow Mamba

    I can say that I am not surprised at all with this move. I actually had a feeling that D’Antoni was the choice all along. With the roster and the history he has had with Nash, Kobe, Dwight this was the most logical fit in terms of the offensive system that he will bring to the Lakers. As much as I wanted PJax, the Lakers do need to move on from him. They can’t always come back to Phil everytime something goes wrong. They have to try to create a new identity for themselves and i’m actually excited to see what the future holds for our team. If we are able to give Brown a chance, then D’Antoni definitely deserves to show what he has before we pass judgment.

    • Michael

      Agreed. I have a bad feeling about D’Antoni, but he’s a great coach, perhaps he’ll prove skeptics like me wrong.

  • Brian Williams

    Man, please. This is a disaster in the making, and everyone with eyes and a hint of a basketball IQ can see the train wreck coming. Any hope/optimism is sorely misplaced. You don’t trade for the best center in the league only to employ the one coach that disregards the position totally. I’d be surprised if he makes the season.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Robobob909 Robert Brown

      How in the HELL you do you figure that Howard will be “disregarded”?? On the pick and roll, he will thrive! He’ll be setting picks and rolling to the basket. You watch the defenses collapse as he creates mismatches. Either he’ll be slam dunking all over defenders, or shooting it back out to Kobe or Nash to drain the threes. Some people shouldn’t post on here if they know nothing about basketball.

    • hookedonnews

      Disregards the center position? If I recall correctly, Amar’e fared pretty well in D’Antoni’s system. Howard is the best pick and roll center in the league. Nash is the best pick and roll point guard in the league. This should be perfect for Howard. Nothing is a sure thing. There’s no reason to throw in the towel before D’Antoni even shows up. I’m sure you believe that Phil Jackson would have guaranteed a championship, but that’s up for debate. His last year in LA was a disaster on a lot of levels, and the Triangle would have just been another problem like the Princeton. Besides, he took himself out of the picture with his prima donna demands. Give this a chance before you write it off. LA still has the best starting 5 in the league. Now they will have an offensive system that doesn’t strangle the offense. Hear that D’Antoni wants Nate McMillan as an assistant. That should help the defense. Relax and see what happens. You could be pleasantly surprised.

      • Yellow Mamba

        great post. Thank goodness there are actually fans that know the game beyond what is on the scoreboard and on the highlight reels. All the uproar that I’ve heard all day is from clueless people that are basically repeating what they are hearing through the media and trying to make it their own. Everyone just needs to relax and let this thing play out…remember D’Antoni never had the type of players that he has now. Lets see what happens and enjoy the ride…

  • Yellow Mamba

    People need to stop thinking with their heart and start thinking with their head. Any person with REAL basketball knowledge can see that this is probably the BEST fit for the Lakers right now. If the players were struggling in the Princeton, how the hell are we gonna be in the Triangle, which is more complex with its read/reactions than the Princeton. IMO, we don’t have 2 months to figure it out. Look at what has happened the last two games. Get rid of the Princeton and the offense looks to be less restrictive and free-flowing. Now you implement an up-tempo system and you are telling me that Howard, Kobe, Nash, Pau won’t thrive in it? Look at what D’Anotni did for Nash and Lin with this offense. Howard is a far superior player than Stoudamire and it look what it did for Amare. If you are concern about the D like I am, then bring in a Nate McMillian or some other defense minded assistant to be in charge of that area. This hire will work out and at the end of the season, all these “so-called” fans will be singing the praises of the new coaching staff and front office for making this move.

    • Just a Laker Fan

      I couldn’t agree more. I would even take it a step forward by saying look what he can do for our bench. Our bench has been struggling besides a slight improvement thanks to hill and Morris I personally believe that Coach D can make Darrius whom I think has great potential into a rising star. I believe that he can utilize Morris Ebanks Meeks Jaminson and Sacre plus Hill into a fast tempo bench that can put a beating on other teams.

  • Donewiththeseason

    Great there goes the season! Howard’s gone. Mark my words Lakers nation were screwed thanks again to Jimmy! For every good he doubles the bad!

  • Just a Laker Fan

    So, just saying Coach D should do a good job. My heart wants Phil but what can I say but my brain says Coach D will do a good job. One of the best of things to come out of Coach D will be the bench. The bench will improve tremendously my favorite pick will be Morris under Coach D. He will improve him so much. So lets go Lakeshow.

  • Belize Lakers Love

    Full disclosure, I was in favor of Phil Jackson….so was I but after reading this…makes a lot of sense.

  • worldcity

    O really D’Antoni supposed to save the lakers run n gun offense thats what teams like now days every lakers dont use there size then teams will love to run with lakers lets go so who can score the most clippers thunder denver spurs can put up 100 lets go lakers lets run