How Mike D'Antoni Must Adjust Coaching Style to Mesh with Lakers Roster
With the hiring of head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Los Angeles Lakers have created the potential for offensive brilliance. Before they can reach the level expected of them, however, coach D'Antoni must acknowledge one imposing truth.
Until he adjusts his coaching style to mesh with the Lakers' roster, the team will not produce to its fullest ability.
As we learned with Mike Brown, a quality system means nothing if a coach is unable to mold it to the shape of his personnel. Should the coach attempt to force his players into accepting a concept they are uncomfortable with, we've seen what the results will be.
No matter how talented the roster may be.
In order for D'Antoni to make this work, the following adjustments must be made. Some will be minor, while others will be a complete change in design.
Regardless of how drastic, they will make the Lakers the offensive power D'Antoni believes they can be.
Allow Pau to Flash to the Post
For those unfamiliar with the design of the Mike D'Antoni offensive system, it is far more complex than the pick-and-roll. In fact, D'Antoni's system is one of the most intricate in the NBA.
According to the concept, Steve Nash will be at the top of the key while Dwight Howard will come up to the high post. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant will be in opposite corners of the floor, while Metta World Peace will stand on the wing.
In turn, D'Antoni will overrule one of the things that the Lakers brass looked to change in 2012-13. He will continue to keep Gasol away from the basket.
In order to maximize the results on offense, D'Antoni must abandon the facet of his system in which the corner 4 remains idle. Instead, he must flash Gasol to the post and allow him to work with his back to the basket or pass to a curling Kobe off of set screens.
Should D'Antoni opt to do this, he will capitalize on the European-style abilities of Gasol as a shooter and facilitator. Should he fail to, the world-class abilities of D'Antoni's power forward will be limited, if not lost.
Believe in Jordan Hill
For those unfamiliar with the situation, now Lakers reserve Jordan Hill once had Mike D'Antoni as a head coach. The duo worked together with the New York Knicks—a project that eventually led to Hill being traded to Houston.
Hill's response was that D'Antoni buried him on the roster (via The New York Post).
"Coach D'Antoni, he relies on his veterans more than rookies," Hill told the Houston Chronicle. "He feels like his rookies need to learn more their first year so they could get everything down pat. I understood. I just wanted to wait patiently until my time was coming."
Albeit controversial, that is a reasonable belief by coach D'Antoni. If he has any plans of winning an NBA championship, however, he must embrace the fact that Hill is the best reserve the Lakers have.
Without him, their second unit will continue to struggle. With him, they'll at least have a borderline elite rebounder who can function as a quality defender in Dwight Howard's absence.
They could also have a potential screen-and-roll project.
More Jodie Meeks
This is not necessarily an adjustment in coaching style, but coach Mike D'Antoni must embrace his role players. Specifically Jodie Meeks, who must play at least 20 minutes per game.
As for why, Meeks is the best three-point shooter on the Lakers' roster. In turn, that makes him the perfect candidate for the role of weak-side scorer.
When Steve Nash comes off of a screen-and-roll, the opponent's weak-side defender must rotate to take on the dive-man. This leaves a player open for a pocket three, which is exactly where Meeks thrives most.
Place him in the weak-side corner and you will find your greatest results.
Kobe on the Wing
As previously alluded to, there could be issues with the design of Mike D'Antoni's system. Aside from Pau Gasol being placed in the pocket, Kobe Bryant would be placed in the opposite corner.
Although Bryant could still produce, he's a much better fit from the wing. The main reason for this, of course, is his ability to hit Dwight Howard on the dive.
Since Howard's days in Orlando, he has been best when rolling off of a screen and receiving a pass from the wingman. That sets up the Lakers having Steve Nash coming off of a screen and kicking it out to a wing player, only for said athlete to throw it inside.
With all due respect to Metta World Peace, there is no way around how much better a passer Bryant is when compared to him.
Each of these tweaks appears to be reasonable and within D'Antoni's reach. Should he opt to take said routes, minor adjustments could breed major improvements in Los Angeles.
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