Complete Statistical Predictions for Kobe, Dwight and Laker Stars Under D'Antoni
In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Bryant praised D'Antoni's fast-paced offense, which epitomizes team play and features the point guard as the star. However, Bryant expects that his overall production will not change. As he put it, "Drop me anywhere and I'm going to get you 25, 30 points."
That's certainly possible in D'Antoni's system, but what about the rest of Bryant's teammates? Keep in mind, the Lakers' issue for the past few seasons has been Bryant handling too much of the offense. This is why Steve Nash, a favorite of D'Antoni, was brought in to run the offense, so that the offense would have a little more variety.
That being said, once D'Antoni comes aboard, how will guys like Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard fare? Both are talented on offense, but can they be a good fit for a faster system?
Needless to say, each of the Lakers' star players is going to post their own unique statistics playing for D'Antoni. Overall, it should lead to solid seasons for all.
Prediction: 10.3 PPG, 9.9 APG, .487 FG%, .395 3P%
Of all of the players on the Lakers, Nash is going to have the easiest adjustment period. D'Antoni was his coach in Phoenix for four years and he took home two MVP awards playing for the offensive mastermind. After D'Antoni left to coach the New York Knicks, the Suns kept the fast-paced offense and Nash flourished in it.
However, it should be noted that Nash was 30 when he started playing for D'Antoni. He is now 38 and has slowed down with age each of the past three seasons.
His passing skills are still highly respectable and his shooting as accurate as ever, but to say that he'll be the same offensive force that he was in Phoenix is a bit much. He'll post respectable numbers, but won't drive hard to the basket to draw fouls as much.
Prediction: 23.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4 APG, .464 FG%
Even though D'Antoni's offense calls for the point guard to be the star of the show, Bryant said it best in his interview with Amick. The Lakers have different personnel and the approach will be adjusted accordingly.
That said, it's a safe bet that the Black Mamba will continue to be the alpha dog on offense. He is one of the best scorers in NBA history for a reason, and to take the ball out of his hands for the sake of pure team play would just be foolish.
However, because the ball is being shared more, Bryant isn't going to get the usual 25 or 30 points per game on a regular basis. Assuming he fully buys into D'Antoni's philosophy, that number will probably drop by a few points.
He'll still have his occasional offensive outburst but for the most part will let the sugar be spread so that his team can win as many games as possible.
Metta World Peace
Prediction: 8.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, .369 3P%
If there's anyone who probably won't fare so well in D'Antoni's system, it's World Peace. Ever since becoming a Laker, his offensive production has plummeted and his defense has gone from pesky to average.
However, all hope is not lost for him.
One thing that the former St. John's star can still do is excel in catch-and-shoot situations. If he can learn how to wait on the wing or in the corner for the ball to come to him, then he'll survive in the system by becoming the best kind of silent assassin.
World Peace will also find a way to help shoulder the load on defense, be it playing lockdown defense or fighting for rebounds.
Again, his offensive game under D'Antoni will be severely limited. Still, with what he CAN do on that end of the floor, he has just enough not to be dead weight.
Prediction: 16.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG, .477 FG%
Gasol played in Europe for three years before coming to the NBA in 2001, so he's no stranger to playing in a fast-paced offense. In fact, besides Bryant and Nash, he's probably the one most excited about D'Antoni coming to coach the Lakers.
However, given his position and teammates, it's hard to say that he'll be a 20 and 10 per game power forward, like Shawn Marion was when he played for D'Antoni in Phoenix.
That being said, look for Gasol to keep on doing what he's been doing the whole time he's been with the Lakers. His game won't change that much, but his touches on offense will probably drop ever so slightly, which is not a bad thing by any means.
He may not be the same Gasol fans have come to know and love, but he will play an integral role in the team's success so long as he can stay committed to D'Antoni's system and not try to change things up on his own.
Prediction: 23.1 PPG, 14.3 RPG, 2.4 BPG
Though D'Antoni's offense relies on a solid point guard to run it, the key to the system succeeding as a whole is a center who can be dominant on both sides of the court. In Phoenix, D'Antoni's man in this role was Amar'e Stoudemire, who was a great scorer but always a bit soft on defense.
Fortunately, D'Antoni has, quite possibly, the best center in the NBA on his team this time around. Howard plays his position with no mercy and loves being a force on both sides of the floor.
Thus, whenever Bryant isn't open, look for Nash to get Howard the ball as often as possible. He has great size at 6'11", 265 pounds and will use it to blow away the opposition at every opportunity.
The fact is that without Howard playing at his top level, the Lakers are sunk. Fortunately, this is a system that allows him to be great and have plenty of help around him. When push comes to shove, he's going to be just fine playing for D'Antoni and will have all the more reason to sign an extension with the Lakers.
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