It'll only be a few days until Mike D'Antoni brings his fast-paced offense to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, if the team's loss against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night is any indication, the offensive guru's tenure with LA will be just like the years he spent with the Phoenix Suns. He'll get close to the NBA Finals, but ultimately come up short against the stronger team.
Playing without point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake, the Lakers lost a tough one by an 84-82 margin. Were it not for a late three-pointer by Danny Green, Los Angeles may very well have won.
Unfortunately, even if D'Antoni's system were employed during the game against the Spurs, it wouldn't have made a difference. The sad truth is that, based on the Lakers' performance against San Antonio, D'Antoni has zero chance of getting this team past them or the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs.
Look at it this way. In the wake of Blake's injury, I mentioned how the key to the team succeeding was for point guards Chris Duhon (who played under D'Antoni in New York) and Darius Morris to actually try to create plays made to get the ball to the team's scorers, namely Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Instead, the Lakers' offense turned into the Kobe Bryant Show and thus became one-sided. The future Hall of Famer scored 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting, though he did also dish out eight assists.
Gasol, on the other hand, struggled with his shot all evening. He scored just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting despite grabbing 10 rebounds.
However, the most guilty party on offense was easily Metta World Peace, who shot 4-of-14 from the field, including a ridiculous eight three-point attempts. Center Dwight Howard's six turnovers were just the icing on the cake.
That all being said, look at how fast D'Antoni's offense is compared to the balanced attack of the San Antonio Spurs.
For one thing, Howard is going to be expected to be an explosive center on both ends of the floor, but he is already averaging nearly four turnovers per game. In a fast-paced game, are his hands capable of keeping up with the quick pick-and-roll D'Antoni likes to run often?
On top of that, Howard isn't the same dynamic center that Spurs big man Tim Duncan is. He plays the game one way: score on offense, get rebounds and block shots on defense. Nothing more, nothing less.
Duncan, on the other hand, has always been more of a team player. While his scoring and defense are his strongest suits, he has never hesitated to dish off a pass to a teammate and protect the ball by any means necessary. For his career, he has averaged 3.1 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game, compared to Howard's career postings of 1.5 and 3.1.
Even in Tuesday's game at Los Angeles, Duncan showed just how better-rounded a center he was compared to Howard. Not only did he have four assists to Howard's one, but he also did not once turn the ball over. In that area, Howard committed six.
Thus, while Mike D'Antoni's system may work for the Lakers to a certain degree, to say that it will help them move past teams like the experienced San Antonio Spurs or the young and multi-talented Oklahoma City Thunder is just plain wrong. They'll be able to compete, but they just don't have the overall team dynamic to keep up with either team.
Unless D'Antoni can take a step away from the offense and hold a few clinics on team play and ball control, this hiring is going to be in vain as Lakers fans go a few more years without a title.