L.A. Lakers' Roster a Horrible Fit for Mike D'Antoni's Break-Neck Tempo

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 12: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks watches as his team takes on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Knicks 104-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For the most part, the offensive system of the Lakers has been the center of attention ever since Phil Jackson came to Los Angeles. Perhaps it's because they've had an offense with a "name" more often than not (Phil's Triangle, Mike Brown's Princeton, Rudy Tomjanovic's modified Hawk, Frank Hamblen's Hambone Special. One of those may or may not be made up.), which always made it more identifiable.

People can talk in length about Phil Jackson and the Triangle Offense, or even the merits of the Princeton Offense, but it's kind of hard to pinpoint the offensive scenarios surrounding someone like Frank Vogel or Keith Smart unless you watch the plays they run and dissect them individually.

The Triangle is wing and post-heavy. The Princeton is guard-heavy with ball movement and off-ball screens.

Naturally the next guy the Lakers hired would have to have a highly-identifiable offense, and no offense in the past few seasons is as identifiable and as controversial as the one that Mike D'Antoni runs.

Call it the seven-seconds-or-less offense, or just classify it as a run'n'gun offense that focuses heavily on the pick-and-roll. The point is that it's an offense the casual basketball fan has heard of, but most likely has an opinion of.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not this Lakers team is going to fit in with the D'Antoni vision.

What D'Antoni needs more than anything else from his players is for them to constantly run, which means everybody has to be in tip-top shape. For guys like Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard I can't possibly see that being a problem, although it might be a problem that Bryant and World Peace are as old as they are.

Dwight Howard's comments on D'Antoni's offense sum it all up pretty well:

Dwight Howard on the new up-tempo style expected under D'Antoni --- "We got a lot of old guys, so we gotta get in shape..."

— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) November 13, 2012

As you move down the list of Lakers players who look to be highly involved in the offense, you start to get worried.

The first thing that concerns me is the severity of Steve Nash's fractured leg. What was once classified as a temporary, most likely week-long leave, has now been delayed a week and is pending re-evaluation.

Is it possible that Nash's first real injury of his career is one that could be a lot worse than they're letting on? Even more concerning, could it slow him down in an offense in which he's expected to do nothing but run?

Nash isn't my biggest concern out of the gate, however. He's been nothing but a model of health for most of his career, and if anybody can recover and run this offense as a 39-year-old man, it's him.

The biggest case for concern is just the age of this team.

In his tenure with the Suns, D'Antoni relied on young legs to run his offense, save the slowly aging Nash (I'm not even sure if he was aging, actually) and the stray Jim Jackson or Kurt Thomas used as a spot-up shooter or a defensive stopper.

When the team added Shaquille O'Neal to the roster, the offense changed. It still worked rather well, but instead of seven-seconds-or-less, it became seven-seconds-or-Shaq because it took the big man that long to run the floor and get into position.

My concern is that Antawn Jamison, Pau Gasol and Steve Blake aren't in good enough shape and that Kobe, World Peace and Nash aren't nearly as fast as they once were. Meanwhile the young guys that D'Antoni offenses thrive on aren't nearly as good as they young guys that were featured with his best teams in Phoenix.

Could it work? Certainly. The problem is there are a lot of red flags with this team running an offense that usually feeds on youth.