The L.A. Lakers Won't Be Like the N.Y. Knicks for Mike D'Antoni
And there's reason to believe Nash should be. A fractured fibula doesn't reflect old age, and bones heal. I would know; I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Mike D'Antoni's system is like a user-friendly computer; however, it runs on a specific brand of software. The computer is the offense, the software is a point guard, and the users are gigantic sweaty men.
Quick history trip:
I won't waste time mentioning the success Nash had with D'Antoni back in Phoenix (see what I did there). But when D'Antoni had Raymond Felton, post-Chris Duhon, pre-Carmelo Anthony, his system had a qualified operator.
The Knicks had a winning record before they dealt Raymond Felton in 2011, who was averaging all-star numbers of 17 points and nearly nine assists.
But after trading for Anthony, they were left point guard-less, and essentially D'Antoni's system was inoperable (Chauncey Billups couldn't stay on the floor, nor was he the right man for the job).
It's a system that needs a facilitator who can manipulate the defense, read pick-and-rolls, execute and run.
Nash has driven this vehicle for years, and with what the Lakers have up front, the transition process should be seamless.
Let's look at how D'Antoni used the half-court pick and roll with Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, a player with similar explosiveness as Dwight Howard in his prime.
Notice the spacing on the side of the court. The three other members are spread out on the weak side, giving Nash and Amar'e all the room in the world. Kobe would replace the man at the top of them, who would rotate over if Option 1 isn't open.
Here's the same set on the other side with Felton and Amar'e. Again, the spacing makes the recipient a more dangerous target. Giving Howard and Pau Gasol space around the hoop presents an opportunity they must exploit.
With both Dwight Howard and Gasol, the Lakers have pick-and-roll versatility. There aren't too many better candidates to be the recipient of a Steve Nash "thread the needle" dime.
Below, you can see Amar'e catch the ball right behind the dotted circle. That's a shot Gasol makes in his sleep—and a spot Dwight can explode from to the rim.
Worried about Steve Nash's numbers before the injury? Don't be.
The Princeton offense they were using essentially eliminates the effectiveness of a point guard by taking his "creativity pass" away. The Georgetown Hoyas run similar motion sets. Last year their starting center, Henry Sims, led the team in assists.
The Knicks just didn't have the right personnel to play Mike D'Antoni ball. Remember that talk about running the offense through Melo at the point, the way the Celtics did with Larry Bird? Laughable.
With Steve Nash on the floor, the Lakers have the half-court pieces to dominate offensively in Howard and Gasol. Kobe will get his too, but the offense won't run through him. It can't—not in this system.
Maybe it's time for Kobe's role to diminish (cue the hate mail). The Lakers haven't exactly had success as of late and might need to explore a new avenue for a balanced offense.
Kobe has a good relationship with D'Antoni. They respect each other, which is more than you could say about Mike and Melo, at least in terms of basketball IQ.
With mediocre defensive units in Phoenix and New York, D'Antoni will now have Howard to compensate for his poor defensive preparation. Assuming Steve Nash gets back and remains healthy, this is his best chance at an NBA championship.
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