In the most stunning move of a tumultuous 2012-13 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers opted to hire Mike D'Antoni over 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson (via ESPN). In turn, they've done the unthinkable.
The Lakers have sacrificed a virtual guarantee of competing for an NBA championship for simplicity. The Lakers have also saved themselves from their Princeton woes.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Lakers made the decision by virtue of the similarities between the triangle and Princeton offenses. As we've all witnessed, the Princeton led to nothing short of confusion and disarray.
Most importantly, it led to a 1-4 record.
Lakers insist they chose D'Antoni over Phil. Say triangle offense similar to Princeton and would not have been good fit for roster.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) November 12, 2012
Now, let's be clear. Phil Jackson is the better fit for the Lakers and would offer them a greater chance to win an NBA championship.
But let's not sell D'Antoni short.
D'Antoni + Nash = Instant Offense
When the news first broke of the Lakers' decision to go with Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson, the instant reaction was outrage. What the world failed to acknowledge, however, was the potential for brilliance as D'Antoni and point guard Steve Nash reunite.
So why should this excite us?
When Nash played under the guidance of D'Antoni, the duo led the Phoenix Suns to two Western Conference finals appearances. In that time, D'Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year Award.
Nash, meanwhile, was twice named league MVP.
Although the defense in Phoenix was virtually nonexistent, Nash and D'Antoni orchestrated the most powerful offense of their generation. Expect even greater results in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Lakers may have an offensive-minded head coach, but that does not mean their defense cannot flourish. Not when the likes of Dwight Howard and Metta World Place are in the rotation.
The Lakers may give up more points than the average, but what they have are a group of players that can step up when they need to. Howard, MWP and Kobe Bryant are all known for their clutch defense, which suggests they'll be able to shut an opponent down when it matters most.
So why the commotion?
In Phoenix, the likes of Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire manned the perimeter and paint. Although Shawn Marion provided an elite defensive presence, that was virtually all there was in terms of defensive prowess in the rotation.
In Los Angeles, there is three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and one-time award recipient Metta World Peace. How can you not be excited for the possibilities?
According to Synergy Sports, Mike Brown's Los Angeles Lakers ran just two pick-and-roll plays for Dwight Howard. All season.
With Steve Nash returning and playing the watch of Mike D'Antoni, expect that to change. Expect that to change in a major way, so be thankful for that.
Howard and Nash are the best individual pick-and-roll artists in the game. Howard is unstoppable off of the dive and finishes as well as any in traffic.
Nash, meanwhile, is an elite decision-maker who can run the screen game as well as any point guard in NBA history.
There is reason to doubt the Lakers' ability to run an up-tempo offense with so many players over 30. With that being said, D'Antoni is an offensive mastermind who is built to take advantage of the talent in place.
Which is exactly why the Lakers have found a man who could lead them further than expected.