It doesn't matter how many points the Los Angeles Lakers score in Mike D'Antoni's "seven seconds or less" system; they're still going to have to play defense sooner or later.
CBS Sports reporter Ken Berger states that "New Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is expected to reach out to fellow Team USA assistant Nate McMillan as a possible defensive assistant on his staff, a league source told CBSSports.com Monday."
Adding McMillan to the Lakers coaching staff isn't going to help that process along. He's a
savvy offensive mind, running a snail-like half-court offense that will likely put D'Antoni to sleep, but he's far from a defensive guru.
Berger notes in his report that "Pairing D'Antoni and McMillan would strengthen the staff's connection with Olympians Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard while quelling concerns that D'Antoni is too offense-oriented."
Team chemistry is important, especially with the volatile situation currently at play in Los Angeles, but it can't take precedence over everything else. Get along all you want, like your coaches, pat each other on the back after each bucket, but that's not going to matter if you can't get stops on the defensive end.
If you go to basketballreference.com and peel through McMillan's teams, you'll notice that no group finished very high in terms of defensive efficiency.
If you don't feel like doing it yourself, here it is.
In Seattle, McMillan had two teams finish as low as 27th and one team finish as high as 17th in defensive efficiency. In Portland, he had a team finish as low as 28th (2005), and no squad finished higher than 13th (2008). You could look at the other numbers as well, but they aren't going to make you feel any better.
D'Antoni isn't going to be helped by that. It's not going to make the Lakers worse, but it's not going to make them better. Isn't that the goal here? Or, was it just to get rid of Mike Brown?
Winning an NBA Championship isn't going to come easy, and it's not going to come at all if the Lakers don't buy in to all aspects of the game.
The new Lakers staff will have a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate at their disposal, a capable defender in Kobe Bryant, a handful of so-so stoppers and the always awful Steve Nash to stop teams. There's not a lot of defensive talent there as it is, bringing in coaches who only think about scoring the basketball isn't going to help anyone get better.
Los Angeles has already struggled on the defensive end this season. How D'Antoni will implement his fast-paced attack with an old roster and a thin bench is going to be interesting enough without adding more question marks.
The Lakers should be creating fewer question marks right now, not making more. McMillan is a talented basketball mind, but there's nothing to suggest that he would bring the necessary elements to the Lakers' coaching staff. He was a defense-first point guard in his playing days, but that doesn't mean he knows how to bring those ideas across to other players.
Defense does win championships, and the Lakers won't win one without it. McMillan knows how to coach, but he's not the right fit for LA's situation.