Mike D'Antoni Can Bring Showtime Back to the Lakers, but Can He Win a Title?
Mike Brown was never really a good fit as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, and it should come as no surprise that the team decided to sever ties with Brown on Friday.
Brown did lead the Lakers to a second round defeat against Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Playoffs in his first season as head coach, and along the way Brown proved that he was inept when it came to roster rotations, he had no concept of late game management, and his offense lacked any imagination.
Sadly, Brown didn't even have his overrated defensive reputation to fall back on since opponents started chipping away at his defensive myth last season, and caved in the entire wall through the first five games of this season.
Making the decision to fire Brown must have been easy for the Buss family and general manager Mitch Kupchak, but finding the right replacement will be a little more difficult, and a lot more important than Brown's eventual destiny.
According to Ramona Shelbourne at ESPN.com, the Lakers have a short list of four or five names right now and one of those potential coaches just happens to be new Lakers guard Steve Nash's old coach in Phoenix, Mike D'Antoni.
The possibility of re-uniting Nash and D'Antoni is intriguing, and the Lakers offense would likely speed up a bit and the points would be plentiful, but that's where the benefits of a D'Antoni-coached team end.
The Lakers would be more exciting, entertaining and they might even win enough games to cause some fans to draw comparisons to the famed Showtime era of the 80's.
But that fantasy would end when the realization dawns that the Lakers under D'Antoni might be even worse defensively, and especially in the postseason where it counts.
Part of the reason that Brown was eventually axed was because he chose to focus most of his attention on the Lakers Princeton-style offense, instead of making sure his team could get stops on the defensive end.
With offensive talents like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash in your rotation the points will eventually come, so wouldn't it make more sense to concentrate on your porous defense?
However, you don't have to worry much about D'Antoni's defensive philosophy because he simply doesn't have one.
In Phoenix, D'Antoni's best defensive play was instructing Nash to push the ball up the court after an opponent scores, and he carried this wisdom with him to New York and the strategy worked just as well as it did in Phoenix, which is to say that it didn't.
D'Antoni was able to win plenty of games with his controlled chaotic style and with Nash at the helm in Phoenix, and he won a lot less games in New York with the same style, and arguably inferior talent.
But D'Antoni's time in Phoenix and New York is indistinguishable because he was never able to lead a team to the NBA Finals, and with no consistency on the defensive end I doubt D'Antoni could fare any better with this Lakers team.
And just how long do you think the aging Lakers could hold up under D'Antoni's brutal pace anyway?
Bryant and Gasol's skill sets are more suited to a half court offense, especially at this stage of their respective careers, and Nash's leg injury may be the first distinct sign that his age is finally catching up to him.
Remember, D'Antoni tried to adjust his style to fit Shaquille O'Neal's game in Phoenix and the move ended up getting him run out of town.
So why would the Lakers take a chance on a one-dimensional coach who has not shown the ability to adjust his techniques and strategy to fit his roster?
Lakers fans may be enamoured with the thoughts of a return to Showtime, but if the team is really interested in winning championships they will look past D'Antoni.
I think it's worth mentioning that Jackson was also listed as a finalist for the Lakers job along with D'Antoni, and while I'm not too thrilled with the prospects of recycling the Triangle offense, if the choice comes down to a championship coach or a playoff coach, which one would you choose?
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