Skip to content

Mike D’Antoni can win big as Lakers coach — if they defend

Nov 12, 2012, 9:40 AM EDT

New York Knicks' head coach Mike D'Antoni watches a free throw by the Miami Heat during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Miami Reuters

Mike Brown over-thought the situation. He made the Lakers offense more complex than it needed to be — when you have the Lakers’ firepower you don’t need a hybrid-Princeton offense to score a lot of points and get guys to share the ball. Brown’s new offense had the players thinking, not reacting, the result was a lot of turnovers and a 1-4 start. And Brown getting fired.

The Lakers are 2-0 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff in part because he stripped down the offense — Kobe Bryant called it “pick-up basketball” But in that offense the Lakers spaced the floor well, made passes and got good looks. As a team they made good decisions and Bickerstaff praised the Lakers for this after the game. (The other factor for being 2-0 was soft competition.)

For the same reason Bickerstaff had success Mike D’Antoni could work as the new head coach of the Lakers — his offense is not overly complex and is about attacking, spacing and getting easy buckets. It’s about playing on instinct. It’s an offense that is going to be hard to stop because the Lakers key players can all pass. We saw it in the Lakers win over the Kings — Dwight Howard feeling the double team in the post and whipping a pass to Metta World Peace on the weak side for a wide-open corner three. We know Steve Nash is a fit, Kobe Bryant fits in any offense and D’Antoni will love a complete player like Pau Gasol.

The Lakers are going to score a lot of points for Mike D’Antoni. I’m not one who has ever thought D’Antoni’s offense was what was holding him back from winning a ring in Phoenix (an owner not willing to spend big is a larger reason).

But will the Lakers defend well enough under D’Antoni to win a ring?

Because that’s been the real question with the Lakers all along. It doesn’t really matter what offense they run — seven seconds or less, Princeton, triangle, the stuff you junior high coach drew up — they were going to score a lot of points. They are too talented not to. But last season it was their defense that held them back and it was the main question and issue this season.

Mike D’Antoni’s teams have never been great at defense. Well, at least until his final, partial season with the Knicks, but Mike Woodson and Tyson Chandler got all the credit there. His first three seasons in New York the Knicks were never better than 22nd in the league in defensive efficiency (points given up per possession).

His Suns teams were better defensively than they got credit for — because those played at a fast pace they gave up a lot of points per game. But per possession they have up right around the league average those seasons (finishing 13th to 17th).

These Lakers need to be better than average defensively to win it all.

The biggest question for the Lakers become with a defensive force (when healthy) like Dwight Howard in the paint, can D’Anton coax enough defense out of the Lakers to win? A lot of responsibility is going to fall to Howard now, he has to be a force. Is he up to it?

After a failed stint in New York, D’Antoni should be hungry and a little bit desperate to reclaim his status as one of the NBA’s elite coaches. He’s got the team and talent to do that now. He’s got the offense that can get a stacked team a lot of points.

And he might me desperate enough to get them to defend. That is the real key.

Latest Posts
  1. Al Jefferson got two shots in his injured foot, left arena in walking boot, plans to play through it

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Charlotte Bobcats  vs Miami Heat Getty Images

    Charlotte already had a slim margin for error against Miami (if that) and their star being hobbled is not helping matters.

  2. Monday NBA playoff previews: Expect a different looking Clippers/Warriors game.

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, Darren Collison, DeAndre Jordan Blake Griffin, Darren Collison, DeAndre Jordan

    Hopefully the refs let the Clippers and Warriors play some playoff basketball this time around. Thunder/Grizzlies Game 2 as well on Monday.

  3. Sunday NBA grades: Nene, Aldridge lead day where big men shine

    Apr 21, 2014, 2:32 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    Aldridge set a Blazers record with 46 points in a playoff game. Nene reminded everyone why he

  4. Bulls have no answer for Nene as Wizards take Game 1

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT

    Nene, Carlos Boozer Nene, Carlos Boozer

    Nene gets his first start since February and the Wizards steal Game 1.

  5. Charlotte is scrappy but Heat have too much in comfortable 99-88 win

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh

    Bobcats were scrappy, but with Al Jefferson hurting Miami just had too much LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

  6. Gregg Popovich interview with Craig Sager Jr. actually a get-well wish (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    popovich sager1

    Touching moment as Gregg Popovich delivers a heartfelt message.

  7. Spurs use huge 4th quarter run to come back and win Game 1 vs. Mavericks

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

    Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan

    Spurs close the game on a 19-4 run after trailing by double digits.

  8. NBA issues statement saying Chris Paul was fouled before late-game turnover against Warriors

    Apr 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chris Paul, Draymond Green Chris Paul, Draymond Green

    Statement confirms referees handled replay review correctly, but also admits that they missed the initial foul call on a critical possession.

  9. Jim Buss says he’ll step down if Lakers aren’t contenders again in ‘three to four years’

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Jim Buss Jim Buss

    If Jim Buss fails to deliver in quickly rebuilding the Lakers, he says he’ll resign.

  10. Hibbert says he’s the “weak link on defense,” hopes for better Game 2

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game One Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert owned up to a poor Game 1. Will he do anything about it in Game 2 is the question.

  11. Raptors say malfunctioning shot clocks will be fixed in time for Game 2 vs. Nets

    Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    raptors shot clock

    Shot clocks stopped working midway through the third quarter, but Raptors say all will be well in time for Game 2.

  12. Thunder start fast, cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:44 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

    OKC led by as many as 25 points in the first half.

  13. Kyle Korver swats Roy Hibbert’s shot out of bounds (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert wasn’t good in Game 1 against the Hawks, and this play epitomized his performance.

  14. Pacers’ troubles continue as Hawks convincingly win Game 1

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    Pacers' Hibbert looks down court during Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series against the Heat in Indianapolis Reuters

    The eight-seed Hawks blowout the Pacers in Game 1.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (3173)
  2. L. James (3059)
  3. C. Anthony (2833)
  4. K. Durant (2819)
  5. S. Curry (2802)
  1. D. Rose (2646)
  2. A. Bogut (2527)
  3. B. Griffin (2447)
  4. R. Westbrook (2384)
  5. C. Paul (2346)