When Mike D'Antoni steps in as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, one can only expect that there needs to be an adjustment period. The Lakers will be on their third head coach of the 2012-13 NBA regular season, with a third system to be learned.
With all of that being established, it is D'Antoni who will need to adapt more than the Lakers players.
This is not the standard run-and-gun personnel that D'Antoni had grown accustomed to in Denver, Phoenix and New York. Instead, the Lakers are a team made up of crafty veterans looking to collaborate for an NBA championship push.
They're also a group of players who are not built for D'Antoni's up-tempo style of play. So, how will he react and where will he distribute responsibility?
Only time will tell.
Youth & Athleticism?
When D'Antoni led the Phoenix Suns, they were successful because of their combination of youth and athleticism. With the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson at his dispense, Steve Nash worked the offense to perfection.
Unfortunately for Nash and D'Antoni, the athleticism is no longer there.
Instead, there are over-30 legs with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace leading the way. Although Dwight Howard is one of the most athletically gifted centers in the NBA, his mid-range game is not quite at the level of Amar'e Stoudemire.
Regardless, a parallel does not need to be drawn. The 2012 Lakers are much better than the mid-2000s Suns.
Age & Wisdom
They may be older, but don't count out the likes of Bryant and World Peace from an athletic standpoint. They may not be on the level of LeBron James and Josh Smith in that sense, but they can still run the floor and dive into the paint.
More importantly, they're much wiser than the players Nash and D'Antoni are accustomed to playing with.
Bryant and Gasol are two of the best players the NBA has seen since the turn of the century. Each have overcome a decline in athleticism by honing their skills, thus remaining near the top of their respective positions.
With their uncanny ability to adapt to new situations, the duo is almost certain to thrive in the D'Antoni offense. Although Gasol will be playing further away from the basket than he's comfortable with, he will thrive as a pick-and-roll player.
As for Kobe, is there any system he can't perform in?
Seven Seconds or More
The most common label for D'Antoni's style of offense is "seven seconds or less." This refers to his aim of pushing the pace and getting off shots in seven seconds or less, thus maximizing the amount of team possessions and scoring opportunities.
With the previous facts established, however, it appears unlikely that the Lakers will take on that same approach. Instead, they'll have to slow it down to seven seconds or more.
Whatever number that may be.
Due to this fact, it is imperative that D'Antoni adjusts to the capabilities of his personnel. If he does not, he will learn just how swiftly the Lakers brass will act when a coach is mishandling the talents of his players.
There will be an adjustment period for all, but none more than for Coach D'Antoni.