Lakers' Superstars Won't Be Why Mike D'Antoni's Offense Clicks

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterDecember 1, 2012

November 30, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers power forward Antawn Jamison (4) passes the ball to point guard Chris Duhon (21) against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

If the Lakers ever end up confirming Mike D'Antoni's perceived offensive genius, it won't be because of their highest paid players.

The team scored 122 points against the Denver Nuggets, and Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol accounted for eight total field goals.

But it's not as if they underperformed. Bryant, Gasol and Dwight Howard, who finished with 28 points and 20 boards, let the offense come to them in D'Antoni's wide open system.

In order to maximize the Lakers' output, they'll need to execute and make the shots that the ball movement creates. And it won't always be the stars getting the scoring opportunities.

A lot of Mike D'Antoni's offense revolves around spacing for a two-man game, which can either result in an easy finish at the rim, an open pull-up jumper or a drive-and-dish three-pointer.

Below is a perfect example of the simplicity of D'Antoni's offense.

The idea is to collapse the defense by forcing an off-ball perimeter defender to leave his man and help.

Below, Chris Duhon and Pau Gasol appear as if they're running a standard pick-and-roll, but Duhon actually avoids the screen and draws Gasol's defender. As this is happening, the wing, Jodie Meeks, slides closer to the play in order to drag his defender in.

When Duhon hits Gasol, he now has a new defender, as Meeks' man runs over to provide help on Duhon, leaving Meeks wide open for three.

This type of offense will use guys like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash to draw attention. It will be up to role players like Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks and Metta World Peace to convert open opportunities.

Below is an example of Kobe manipulating the defense in a pick-and-roll spot. Defenders are so worried about Kobe and Dwight, they leave Metta World Peace standing open in the corner.

D'Antoni's system creates a ton of open perimeter jumpers. The Lakers attempted 33 three-pointers in against the Nuggets. The fact that they hit 17 was what made it an easy win.

Antawn Jamison scored 33 points on five threes, while Jodie Meeks scored 21 on seven threes. These guys will have key roles moving forward, as they'll be the recipients of numerous open looks throughout a game.

Over the years, guys like Quintin Richardson, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion and Wilson Chandler have all excelled playing on the wing in D'Antoni's system.

It uses key players to do the creating, and role players to do the converting.

Of course, they'll need Kobe to be Kobe, Pau to stay active and Dwight to control the paint. But it will be the lower-profile Lakers that allow the offense to start clicking.