Skip to content

Winderman: Lakers latest in trend to go with system regardless of personnel

Nov 13, 2012, 3:06 PM EDT

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston Reuters

The system coaches used to be the minority, it is among the reasons opposing coaches marveled all those years at Jerry Sloan, how his teams did one thing well and did it over and over and over, even after Stockton and Malone left the building.

The rest? They mostly adjusted.

Oh, Phil Jackson was wedded early to the triangle and Doug Moe had his teams pushing the pace long before there were seven seconds or less.

But it used to be that coaches coached to their personnel.

In Los Angeles, Pat Riley was Showtime. In New York, he was slow time.

Now? Now it’s almost as if teams are hiring the system as much as the coach.

The Lakers, for example, opted for seven-seconds or less over the triangle. That had to be the reason, right? Because it would be difficult to find many other reasons to go, especially in their situation, with Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson.

The Heat, of course, are now space and pace, although that has as much to do with Erik Spoelstra attempting to maximize his Big Three as being wed to a style.

The Knicks are now iso-Melo after Mike Woodson spent all those years with iso-Joe in Atlanta.

Coaches, of course, have long had their preferences, often scoffing at the gimmicks of others, in their private moments insisting that such styles will never win in the playoffs.

It used to be that a coach would adjust his game plan to his personnel, as opposed to Mike Brown’s ill-fated attempt to foist Eddie Jordan’s spin on the Princeton offense on Kobe & Co.

And Kurt Rambis’ insistence on the triangle in Minnesota hardly earned him any favor with the Timberwolves.

For the most part it is pick-and-roll, after the NBA emerged from its period of motion offense.

Mostly, it is whatever works with whomever happens to be working with the ball at the moment.

Perhaps with D’Antoni’s style, the Lakers finally have their post-Phil fit.

But it’s just odd in what widely is recognized as a players’ league that coaches still insist on trying to make the square pegs fit into their round holes.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. albertmn - Nov 13, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Rambis in Minnesota was horrible. He insisted on using the triangle, and then a hybrid triangle when the players couldn’t get the triangle to work. It was a disaster.

    But, a lot of this falls on GMs. When they interview coaches, they have to ask whether they are planning to implement a specific system, or change to fit the players. If the coach is going to implement a system that doesn’t fit the players, the GM shouldn’t hire him, regardless of his other qualifications.

  2. fanz928 - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Now the lakers need a defense coordinator

  3. lakerluver - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Do you honestly think D’Antoni will run the exact same system, with the 2nd oldest team in the league, that he ran with Phx? From everything I’ve heard and read, the dude is an offensive genius. I expect him to construct a system around the personnel that he has. I’m sure it will have some similarities to what he did in Phx but it will not be the same. I’d like to believe D’Antoni is much smarter than that.

  4. paulhargis53 - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    You really ARE a dope lakerslurper.

    Cause that’s exactly what he did in NYC, right? He tried to run his offense with players that didn’t fit the system.

    Even if he does change, Howard is the only one who is a plus defender.

    It’s going to be a long year for you, I’d start writing my concession speech right now if I were you dummy.

  5. thenoblefacehumper - Nov 13, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    “The Knicks are now iso-Melo after Mike Woodson spent all those years with iso-Joe in Atlanta.”

    Have you watched any minute of a Knicks game this year? You and Kurt will take cheap shots until we’re hoisting the Podoloff.

  6. doublezero74 - Nov 13, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Can we get another article on the Lakers? Just can’t get enough of the Lakers talk

  7. reupjosh - Nov 13, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Dear NBC sports, please pay for good writing… Two sentences in, and I can already tell the writing is from a professional and not the other hacks hired to run this site.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (2093)
  2. J. Smith (2007)
  3. D. Rose (1753)
  4. K. Bryant (1736)
  5. T. Wroten (1573)
  1. T. Thompson (1539)
  2. J. Embiid (1458)
  3. R. Rubio (1432)
  4. A. Davis (1366)
  5. K. Irving (1292)