ESPN reported today that the Los Angeles Lakers opted to hire former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni to the same role in LA. D'Antoni is a famous proponent of the run and gun, fast-paced offensive system. While D'Antoni is an acceptable NBA coach, he will not succeed for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The main issue with Mike D'Antoni is that the pieces just don't fit!
As I mentioned before, Mike D'Antoni is famous for pushing the run and gun offense. In Phoenix, his teams were always near the top of the NBA in pace and offense, especially since they were spearheaded by Steve Nash. Now Nash is in Los Angeles, but the pieces around him are not conducive to the system.
The Lakers starting lineup is Steve Nash (when healthy), Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Out of those players, Nash and Dwight are players who are known for being athletic and running the floor at this point in their careers. While the other three have the ability to run, they are not players who are known for running the floor.
Kobe is a complete halfcourt scorer, and Pau has an elite back to the basket post-up game. So pushing the tempo will really only get two players involved at this point.
Maybe to some extent, Mike D'Antoni could come in and improve the offense, especially through maximizing Steve Nash's role in it. However, the Lakers' issue is not on the offensive end of the floor. They are rated fifth overall in Hollinger's Offensive Rating. The two issues are defense and turnovers.
The Lakers are third-worst in the league at turning the ball over, and middle of the pack in defensive rating and points per game allowed. The Lakers have Dwight Howard, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and Kobe Bryant, a supposed nine time All Defensive First Team member. Middle of the pack won't cut it.
Should the Lakers have held out for Phil Jackson?
For those two issues, Mike D'Antoni is one of the worst in the league. Since D'Antoni teams have a high-paced offense, they turn the ball over at a high rate. This isn't the biggest issue in the world, but this is a team whose trouble controlling the ball is leading to problems already. As well, Mike D'Antoni is famous for not being able to coach defense. This most notably led to issues when he was the coach in New York, and the teams were bottom ten in the league in defensive metrics.
An elite team cannot do that.
And of course, the biggest issue of them all is that the Lakers could have had Phil Jackson. Now there were talks that Phil was asking for a lot in return for coaching the team, but adding Jackson really could have guaranteed a spot at least in the Finals. Are the Lakers all of a sudden becoming a team worried about paying guys?
I doubt that.
While Mike D'Antoni is an acceptable NBA coach, he is not a guy that the Lakers should have brought on board. With the roster as is, this could be the difference between a championship and a second-round exit.