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L.A. Lakers' Offensive Carelessness Will Doom Mike D'Antoni

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22:  Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks reacts as he coaches against the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  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 Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2016

The Los Angeles Lakers will not be kind to Mike D'Antoni

Not in the beginning, anyway.

While Los Angeles' starting lineup should have no trouble performing within a seven-seconds-or-less system once they master it, mastering it will become an issue.

D'Antoni's system is predicated on not just pushing the ball and putting the most points on the board, but getting as many possessions as possible. For a Lakers team that is averaging just 8.6 fast-break points per game—second worst in the NBA—that will be a blessing.

Once again, though, only when they master it.

You see, one of the pitfalls of Mike D'Antoni's offensive blueprint—other than getting back on defense quickly enough—is turnovers. With more possessions and an overwhelming amount of ball movement comes turnovers.

Throughout D'Antoni's coaching career, his teams—the ones he coached for an entire season—averaged 14.2 turnovers per game.

Terrible? No, but average at best.

That being said, the Lakers team he is taking over is already averaging 18 turnovers per game, the worst in the league. In fact, 16.7 percent of their possessions culminate in a turnover, the second-highest ratio in the league behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That is a problem.

If Los Angeles is giving up the ball that much now, what is going to happen when it receives more possessions, or in this case, more opportunities to commit turnovers?

Though the Princeton offense did dictate that the ball keep moving, it was not at the pace D'Antoni's offensive scheme will. In the seven-seconds system, you must react instinctively—you must react immediately.

Steve Nash is familiar with reading and reacting under such circumstances. Guys like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, however—who combine for 9.6 cough-ups per game—aren't.

That's going to be D'Antoni's biggest battle, the Lakers' greatest pitfall moving forward. Because if they can't protect the ball, their coach's offense isn't going to be effective.

And if D'Antoni's offense isn't effective, Los Angeles won't win, Magic Johnson will be giddy with self-appeasement and Phil Jackson will be watching from Montana shaking his head.

Based off the lackadaisical awareness the Lakers have exuded as a collective offensive unit, such a reality remains a strong possibility. It's also cause for immediate concern, because if the team is bound to struggle under D'Antoni's system right out of the gate, he won't yield the instantaneous results he is expected to.

What then?

Do the Lakers jump ship on him the way they did with Mike Brown? Do they ride out the rough waters to see if the team becomes more conscious of its decisions with the ball? Or does all mayhem just break loose?

Almost needless to say, D'Antoni isn't going to be keen on finding out.

That is why before he preaches an up-tempo pace, before he dictates that Los Angeles move swiftly on offense, before he even begins to address the defense, he must first ensure his team is prepared to protect the rock.

If he doesn't, the Lakers will not only continue their losing ways, but he'll be left begging for a job from the unemployment line.

Right next to Mike Brown.

 

 

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