After the expected transitional period, the Lakers will either live up to the hype or not.
Every new coach has a certain grace period to implement his system after being signed to a new team. However, D'Antoni is going to have a shorter-than-ordinary grace period given the intensity of the spotlight that hovers over this franchise.
Though there is no doubt that the reincarnation of 'Showtime' basketball is an exciting prospect for every NBA fan, consider the fact that the old Phoenix Suns teams that D'Antoni used to coach had a very different skill set than the imposing Lakers roster this season.
Regardless, the Lakers are expecting results from their new head coach.
Henceforth, 10 games on the NBA schedule will determine whether Jim Buss has made a controversial yet genius decision, or another extremely costly mistake.
Despite the loss of James Harden, the Oklahoma City Thunder remain the team to beat in the Western Conference.
Furthermore, the Thunder knocked out the Lakers in the NBA playoffs last season, utilizing their excellent perimeter offense and defense to mitigate the skills of the Laker guards.
Unfortunately, the Lakers could not take advantage of their size advantage, and fell victim to the Thunder as Kevin Durant proved his supremacy.
That being said, the Lakers should have a huge chip on their shoulders entering this game.
Armed with a new point guard in Steve Nash, the perfect centerpiece for Mike D'Antoni's offense, the Lakers should be able to contend with the Thunder's transition game.
As the first true test in the schedule post-Mike Brown, the Lakers need to use this game as a measuring stick of their progress up that point.
Although a win is still up for debate against a very talented Thunder squad, the offense and the defense should be gelling by this point.
However, consider the fact that the Thunder are well-equipped to run in transition as well. Given D'Antoni's penchant for the fast break, it is not unreasonable to expect that a well-oiled machine like the Thunder might run the developing Lakers out of the building.
Consider also the fact that D'Antoni's roster in Phoenix consisted of no real post presence. Rather, every player on the floor could shoot from mid-range and beyond while the pick and roll was run extensively with Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire.
With the Lakers, Mike D'Antoni has less shooters and two of the most dominant post presences in the game in Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
This game will be a good indicator of whether D'Antoni's offense will mitigate Howard and Gasol's ability to dominate smaller forwards and centers or if his offense will be versatile enough to accommodate that advantage.
Furthermore, any future games with the Thunder should be considered an important game for the Lakers, who are attempting to reclaim their Western Conference throne from the young Western Conference champions.
There is no doubt that the New York Knicks have started out as one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
Despite the fact that the Knicks could not possibly keep up such a torrid start, there is no doubt that their defense and unselfish team play will be consistent (at least until Amar'e Stoudemire returns and chemistry becomes an issue again).
Ironically, the Knicks have begun to play more of a Mike D'Antoni-style offense after D'Antoni's departure.
The Lakers will be playing against a team that makes the extra pass and shoots the long ball exceptionally well.
Furthermore, their stingy defense, led by Carmelo Anthony's newly found perimeter defense and Tyson Chandler's interior presence, will force the Lakers to really execute on offense in order to score the basketball.
Still, the Lakers once again hold a serious size advantage over the Knicks.
With Chandler the only Knick physically capable of matching up against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, a recurring concern resurfaces for the Lakers.
Will Mike D'Antoni's ingenious offense allow for extensive low-post play, where the Lakers almost always hold a sizable advantage?
Ironically, the proverbial little brother in the L.A. Clippers are now playing exactly how the L.A. Lakers want to play.
The Clippers rank second in fast-break points per game despite boasting two big men in Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan that also don't really fit the D'Antoni style of play.
This gives hope to Lakers fans all over the world that the Lakers can conform to D'Antoni's offense despite their large lineup.
This game will not truly determine the king of L.A., but it is a perfect chance to see if the Lakers can beat the Clippers utilizing the same style of play.
Furthermore, Dwight Howard is one of the most athletic and proficient big men in transition, and his match-up against Griffin and Jordan should be compelling.
This matchup with the Miami Heat is pretty self-explanatory.
The Heat are the best team in the NBA and this game against the champions is essential to the Lakers' progression into a championship contender.
The Heat are the most versatile team in the NBA, and their brand of 'positionless' basketball will definitely frustrate the Lakers if they aren't completely focused on both ends of the court.
Furthermore, the position-by-position matchups are compelling even without the different offensive schemes.
The versatile Chris Bosh going up against Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol will be a matchup consider as well.
While Gasol's skill set matches up well with Bosh's face-up game, Howard and Bosh both play different styles that could deter one another.
While Bosh can stretch the floor and draw Howard away from the basket with his mid-range game, Howard can pummel the smaller Bosh in the low-post.
Talent-wise, the two teams are very close. However, over two seasons of gelling have made this Heat team a cohesive unit that can only be beaten if the Lakers develop some measure of cohesion by this point as well.
Although there has been no love lost between these two storied franchises over the years, the L.A. Lakers and the Boston Celtics both enter this game with considerably altered rosters since their last matchup in the NBA Finals in 2010.
Losing Ray Allen, the Celtics have retooled with a myriad of young players surrounding the core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
Furthermore, Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa bring veteran savvy and impressive shooting from the bench.
Led by Rondo's ability to orchestrate the offense in the half-court as well as in transition, the Celtics have the mental grit and ferocity to keep themselves in any game, no matter how bad the deficit.
Facing perhaps the most mentally tough team in the NBA, the Lakers will have to show that they can play a full 48 minutes of consistent basketball in order to put away a veteran team looking for one more shot at an NBA title.
Although the Denver Nuggets are a few pieces away from being true contenders in the Western Conference, they play a brand of basketball that is very similar to Mike D'Antoni's style.
Utilizing the fast break as an offensive tool, the Nuggets like to run, shoot and crash the boards.
Furthermore, the elevation of their home court and the fact that they practice at such a high altitude make them one of the best-conditioned teams almost every season.
This is a good test for the Lakers regarding whether or not they can successfully play D'Antoni's style of basketball and still defeat the younger and more athletic teams that seem to run on an endless supply of stamina.
Loaded with finishers like Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala as well as shooters like Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets have a perfect roster for transition offense.
Like most teams the Lakers play, the Lakers hold a large size advantage in the post, but their effectiveness may be mitigated by the extremely quick tempo at which this game is going to be played.
Assuming D'Antoni isn't going to make too many major changes to his system, consider this game a shooting contest that will be determined by which team has more fire-power.
Playing the Oklahoma City Thunder a couple of weeks after D'Antoni's signing is one thing, but playing them again after a couple of months of development makes this a truly important game.
By this time, the Lakers can be graded fairly on whether or not the D'Antoni experiment was a success or a failure.
Furthermore, by this point, the viewing public can be sure of whether or not the Thunder will be able to hit the same levels of success from the previous season without James Harden.
With these two teams rounding into form and hopefully developing championship-contending identities by this point, this matchup could go a long way towards determining the best team in the Western Conference.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a throwback team that flash back to a time where teams battled and imposed their will with physicality, toughness and teamwork.
Led by Rudy Gay's versatility, Zach Randolph's grit and Marc Gasol's skill and size, the Grizzlies possess an intimidating front-line that can stand up against any front-line in the NBA.
Handling the point guard duties, Mike Conley is an excellent point guard with great range, vision and quickness, and his ability to orchestrate this rugged team makes them a very dangerous threat to the Lakers.
Consider the matchups.
Rudy Gay is strong enough to battle against Metta World Peace. Furthermore, he is quick enough to get his own shot and his high release makes him very hard to guard.
Steve Nash has never been a good defender. At this point in his career, his ability to guard point guards may be more attributed to the help defense of others than his own play. The aging guard will have a hard time keeping up with Conley, who can blow by him for a layup as well as pull-up on a dime for a spot-up jump shot.
Furthermore, the Lakers' size advantage over most teams does not exist against the Grizzlies.
Gasol is large enough to battle against Howard on both ends of the court, while Randolph's intensity and strength more than make up for his lack of height as a power forward.
The Grizzlies are not a team that can be beaten with soft play. The Lakers will need to match up with their physicality while executing their brand of offense in order to pull out a victory.
Considering the fact that the L.A. Clippers are the Lakers' biggest threats in the Pacific Division, this game could go a long way in determining seeding in the playoffs.
Down the stretch, games near the end of the regular season are one of two things.
Either teams are resting their veterans for the playoffs or are fighting hard for playoff positioning.
Despite this tidbit, expect both teams to come out and try to establish the tempo in which they want to play.
Although both teams do want to keep the tempo at a fast pace, Chris Paul is one of the best creators in the half-court.
One of the best players at making those around him better, Paul's ability to change up the tempo depending on the situation will make this a very interesting game for the Lakers.
Furthermore, being the last meeting between these two teams in the regular season, a clear winner in the battle for L.A.'s best team could potentially be decided here (unless they meet again in a playoff series).
This is a very important game for the L.A. Lakers.
At this juncture in previous NBA seasons, Greg Popovich tends to bench his key players in order to conserve their energy for the playoffs.
However, a high-profile match-up against the L.A. Lakers may change the amount of minutes he will play his starters.
Regardless, this is a very important game for the Lakers going into the playoffs due to seeding implications and momentum building.
Wins at the end of the regular season are either throwaway games or momentum builders, and this would definitely be a potential momentum builder for the Lakers.
Going up against a rejuvenated Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, the Lakers are no stranger to the duo and their capabilities.
Steve Nash and Parker have had many battles in the past. With Nash's defense deteriorating and Parker's offensive repertoire bolstered by his tremendously improved shooting, this matchup may be one to watch going into this game and into the playoffs.
Similar to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, Duncan is a very good transition player and is very underrated in terms of his ability to finish on the break.
With the Spurs speeding up the tempo to relieve the physical wear and tear of continuous post play, Duncan's reinvigorated strength and speed should be a major concern for the Lakers.