Dan Duangdao: With a full training camp and players that fit his system, this upcoming season is Mike D’Antoni’s true test. While most are highly critical of the current Lakers coach, the one strength I personally saw was his ability to gradually adapt to his team’s personnel last season. Of course, there will be some who will say it was the players who changed the team’s offense.
What I expect and hope for this upcoming season is that D’Antoni continues to be flexible when it comes to both sides of the court. I’m hoping he allows the starters to play at a comfortable pace while the younger players can inject some energy off the bench playing his style of basketball. On the defensive end, I hope D’Antoni fully utilizes Kurt Rambis’ strengths, which will reduce some of the deficiencies we saw last season.
At the end of the day, it’s up to the players to perform and a coach can only be blamed for so much. If D’Antoni continues to show his willingness to adapt on both ends of the floor, it creates an environment players and free agents want to play for. Once that’s established, it’s up to management to bring in enough talent to win championships.
Cyrus Palizban: With Mike D’Antoni entering his second season as the Lakers head coach I’m expecting a continuation of what took place last season. D’Antoni’s team will be one of the worst defensive teams in the league especially after losing their two best defenders this past summer. The one change I do expect D’Antoni to make is the utilization of Pau Gasol in a way that fits his strengths.
D’Antoni should look to play Gasol at the center position full-time and less along the perimeter. However, D’Antoni has gained a reputation of having short player rotations, and not necessarily utilizing his bench very well. With the Lakers not having much depth on their bench, I expect D’Antoni to rely heavily on starters, and pray he doesn’t run another starter into a serious injury. The Lakers will continue to run a up tempo style under D’Antoni, especially after acquiring pieces this summer that fit D’Antoni’s system.
Ramneet Singh: Mike D’Antoni came into last season with a lot of expectations, and for the most part he did not live up to them. Once D’Antoni took over the throne in Los Angeles, he was expected to lead the talented team deep into the playoffs. However, the subpar play from Dwight Howard and the defensive struggles of the team did not help the Lakers whatsoever.
This season, D’Antoni will have much less pressure to win and not many people expect this team to make a deep post season rush. Even though having a middle in the pack is nothing something to applaud, it will help D’Antoni. In addition, D’Antoni will be getting a full training camp with his players which will help in chemistry and development. The Lakers will need to improve mightily on the defensive end, and the newly hired assistant coaches will help D’Antoni with that.
It is hard seeing D’Antoni not finish the season with the Lakers, but his future with the team is still up in the air with the free agency class of 2014 approaching.
Ryan Ward: After a nightmare season filled with drama, injuries and the eventual departure of Dwight Howard, head coach Mike D’Antoni can only improve next season.
Although the shadow of Phil Jackson will loom over D’Antoni throughout his stay in Los Angeles, the veteran head coach will have an opportunity to redeem himself during the 2013-14 NBA.
With low expectations heading into the upcoming season, D’Antoni will need to a have a healthy squad and the return to form of Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant in order to right the ship for the meantime.
D’Antoni leading the Lakers to the NBA Finals or even a high seed in the Western Conference is a stretch to say the least, but he may begin to win over the avid fan base in Los Angeles with a decent showing with a mediocre team next season.
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