Mike D'Antoni's Up-Tempo Style Would Be Death Sentence for Aging Lakers
If you haven't heard the news yet, the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown on Friday after the team's 1-4 start. As soon as news of Brown's dismissal went viral, rumors began to fly about who would be brought in to replace him.
As Lakers ownership has been considering firing of Brown, Mike D'Antoni has been a prominent name discussed as replacement, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 9, 2012
While D'Antoni had previous NBA success with the Suns before the Knicks disaster, if the Lakers hired him to replace Brown, it wouldn't come without some concern.
D'Antoni's teams have never had an issue scoring the basketball. His Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns teams annually ranked among the top in the league in points per game while running an up-tempo, fast-paced offense.
But D'Antoni has never had a team the collective age of this current Lakers roster. Steve Nash is 39. Kobe Bryant is 34 and in his 17th NBA season. Dwight Howard is coming off back surgery. Sixth man Antawn Jamison has looked every bit his 36 years of age. These aren't exactly young legs that we're talking about here.
The Lakers would most likely jump out to fast starts by pushing the ball, bring in their shaky bench to spell the starters, then have to fight to either maintain or regain a lead. That's not exactly a recipe for success, nor does it bode well for a veteran team that would need to save their legs for the playoffs.
Not only would the Lakers struggle to maintain a fast pace, an up-tempo offense would further put pressure on their inconsistent defense. Before Brown's dismissal, the Lakers were in the bottom half of the NBA in defense, ranking 19th in opponents' points per game (98.8) and 20th in opponents' field-goal percentage (.447). With D'Antoni's system, the Lakers would be exposed by younger lineups that thrive in the transition game (see the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks for examples).
Would the Lakers running a D'Antoni up-tempo offense be fun to watch? No doubt. D'Antoni would probably even put the ball back in Steve Nash's hands and let him run pick-and-rolls with Dwight Howard more frequently—something that Brown's hybrid Princeton offense failed to do. But an up-tempo style would spell disaster for an older Lakers team that is simply better suited for half-court sets than a run-and-shoot style of play.
The Lakers have too much size and too many skilled scorers to get into a track meet with the more youthful, up-and-coming NBA franchises. Hiring Mike D'Antoni would be like trading Brown's defensive expertise for offense in somewhat of a lateral move, which would put the Lakers back in the same position—struggling to regain their glory of years past.
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