Grading Impact Mike D'Antoni Has Had on Each LA Lakers Player

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

Grading Impact Mike D'Antoni Has Had on Each LA Lakers Player

0 of 13

    Mike D'Antoni simply hasn't been able to get it done with the Los Angeles Lakers during his first season on the sidelines of the Staples Center, but he has managed to positively affect a few players on the roster. 

    Ever since he took over against the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 20, things have looked different for the players wearing purple and gold. Some guys have benefited tremendously from his offensive chops, while others haven't exactly thrived in the up-tempo system. 

    Thirteen players have donned Lakers jerseys before and after D'Antoni arrived, so let's break down the level of impact he's had on each of them.

    As a point of clarification, though, these are not grades for how well each Laker has performed. If that were the case, Kobe Bryant would be receiving an "A+." Instead, the grades represent how D'Antoni has impacted each player.

    A "B" means that there hasn't been a positive or negative change. Anything better than a "B" means he's had a positive effect, while anything worse means the opposite.

    Of the 13 players in question, four fall in the "A" range, seven received some sort of "B" and two Lakers earned failing grades. Let's see who's who. 

    Note: All stats are current through Wednesday, Dec. 12 and are provided by, unless otherwise indicated.

Kobe Bryant

1 of 13

    Position: SG

    Age: 34

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 26.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.0 blocks, 1.5 steals, 36.3 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 31.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.8 steals, 38.6 minutes

    Kobe Bryant's scoring has been simply masterful under Mike D'Antoni. He wasn't exactly bad during the Mike Brown and Bernie Bickerstaff days, but it's impossible to overstate just how good his point-producing has been since the coaching move. 

    Although his field-goal percentage has declined to 46 percent since D'Antoni's coaching debut against the Brooklyn Nets, he's taking an additional 2.1 three-pointers per game and knocking down 38.7 percent of them to maintain his shooting prowess from the outside.  

    However, Bryant has declined in other areas.

    He's passing the ball less while turning it over more, and his already-overrated defensive play has taken a step backward. Bryant doesn't always look interested on defense and is failing to properly rotate or play help defense more than ever under D'Antoni.

    All in all, Bryant has been worse on both ends of the court since the mustachioed head coach took over the reins. That's been reflected in his offense and defensive ratings. While the former has gotten nine points worse (124 to 115), the latter has been five points worse (104 to 109).

    Don't get me wrong, because Kobe has still been playing like an MVP. He's undoubtedly one of the best players in the league, but the coaching change has not exactly done wonders for him.

    Grade: B- 

Earl Clark

2 of 13

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 24

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 0.7 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 1.7 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 8.2 minutes

    Mike D'Antoni has had a positive effect on Earl Clark simply by allowing the talented combo-forward to actually get into the game once in a while. That's actually a bit surprising because D'Antoni loves players who can shoot, and Clark might have more success on his jumpers if he tried to miss. 

    The former Louisville standout played in three games before the current coach came to Hollywood, but he wasn't particularly involved in any of them.

    During his three appearances after Nov. 20, Clark has looked much more energetic on the court. He's been active on the glass and has recorded a block in each of those games.

    Grade: B+  

Chris Duhon

3 of 13

    Position: PG

    Age: 30

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 2.3 points, 1.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 12.7 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 5.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.0 blocks, 28.5 minutes

    Much to the surprise of absolutely no one, Mike D'Antoni has had a positive effect on this veteran point guard. It's even less surprising when you remember that Chris Duhon played for the offensive-minded coach with the New York Knicks.

    Not only has the veteran floor general experienced a massive increase in playing time, eventually leading to a role in the starting lineup while the Los Angeles Lakers anxiously await the return of Steve Nash, but he's also played better when on the court. 

    Although Duhon's limited defensive presence has remained, well, limited, he is passing the ball quite effectively while reducing the rate at which he accumulates turnovers. The ball still isn't in his hands very often, but he usually makes the right decision when it is. 

    Grade: A

Devin Ebanks

4 of 13

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 23

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 2.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.3 blocks, 10.3 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 2.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 8.4 minutes

    Devin Ebanks hasn't gotten as much run since Mike D'Antoni came to town, but he's been more effective when he has been able to leave the bench and play a little basketball. 

    The wing player still hasn't shot efficiently—not even close—but his facilitation has been much better. Even though his assists per game didn't change after the coaching acquisition, Ebanks has played less and had the ball in his hands with far less frequency when on the court. The touches that once resulted in turnovers have started to turn into points by his teammates. 

    Grade: B

Pau Gasol

5 of 13

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.4 blocks, 37.2 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 31.5 minutes

    Pau Gasol was having a forgettable season for the Los Angeles Lakers under Mike Brown and Bernie Bickerstaff. Then, things got even worse when Mike D'Antoni starting pacing the sidelines of the Staples Center. 

    He was even benched for Antawn Jamison during the fourth quarter of a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. After the game, he had this to say (per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles):

    "I'm not a pure jump-shooter," he said. "I can stretch the defense out and make a couple jumpers. But how I get going is by getting in the paint and creating off the post, things like that.

    "That's historically how I've been really successful and made a really good name for myself and earned my contracts. But hopefully I'll find a way and we'll find a way to get me a few opportunities there and get myself going in that way and be more effective."

    Whether he's been out of shape, unaccustomed to receiving the ball outside the paint or uncomfortable with D'Antoni's system, Gasol has been shockingly ineffective. As a result, his name has been thrown about in the trade rumors. 

    Knee tendonitis has kept the seven-footer out since the beginning of December, so he hasn't had much of a chance to improve on the court as he gains experience in the new looks. 

    Grade: F

Jordan Hill

6 of 13

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 25

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 7.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.7 blocks, 16.7 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 4.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.0 blocks, 15.3 minutes

    It took Jordan Hill a little while to earn the trust of his new head coach and carve out a role for himself in the Los Angeles Lakers' rotation. Now, he's developed into one of the most consistent bench players, providing quite a bit of value for the team with his energy and physical play. 

    Since the calendars flipped over to December, the undersized big man has turned it up a notch, despite barely playing more than 20 minutes per game. He's averaged 7.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. 

    D'Antoni has recognized that Hill has the ability to run the court, and he's acted accordingly by letting Hill play more in the uptempo system. 

    Grade: A

Dwight Howard

7 of 13

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 20.0 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.7 blocks, 35.8 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.5 blocks, 37.4 minutes

    Dwight Howard has continued to look like someone other than Superman, but I'm not entirely convinced that it's due to the presence of Mike D'Antoni on the Los Angeles Lakers' bench. 

    He's clearly not 100 percent, and all the evidence you need can be found in his defensive play. Normally one of the best pick-and-roll defenders out there and a master at help defense, Howard hasn't been particularly effective in either area. He just can't move like he normally can, and his talented hands haven't been enough to overcome this lack of elite mobility. 

    Health hasn't been the only thing holding Howard back, though. His mental game is clearly a little frazzled. As evidence, you need look no further than his absolutely putrid free-throw shooting. 

    On the year, D12 is shooting 48.8 percent from the foul line. That's a career-worst in what has already been a rather awful career from the charity stripe. 

    Since D'Antoni took over, it's been even worse. The league's best center has hit only 47.4 percent of the "freebies" he's attempted under D'Antoni, and there have been a lot of them because of the Smite-a-Dwight strategy (h/t Timothy Rapp).

    Is this a confidence thing? Is he out of his element in D'Antoni's system? 

    It's just too soon to tell here because of the health factors. 

    Grade: B

Antawn Jamison

8 of 13

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 36

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 4.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, 16.7 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 24.4 minutes

    It didn't take long for the head coach who loves offense and three-point shooting to insert a forward who doesn't even understand what defense means into a larger role. 

    Antawn Jamison has been largely successful in the uptempo offense that allows him to work from the perimeter on a more consistent basis. His true shooting percentage has gone from 47.9 percent during the pre-D'Antoni days to 57.0 percent in the D'Antoni era. And that comes with a sharp uptick in the amount of shots and overall involvement in the offense. 

    The sharp-shooting 36-year-old has been given the green light to fire away from downtown. He's taken full advantage of it. 

    Grade: A

Darius Johnson-Odom

9 of 13

    Position: PG/SG

    Age: 23

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 0.0 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 1.0 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 0.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 2.8 minutes

    There really isn't much to look at here. 

    Darius Johnson-Odom played in three games before Mike D'Antoni took over and averaged only a single minute per contest. 

    Since D'Antoni has been in town, DJO has only appeared in one game and was on the court for nearly three minutes. 

    That's not a large enough sample size to do anything with. 

    Grade: B

Jodie Meeks

10 of 13

    Position: SG

    Age: 25

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 3.1 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 10.7 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.0 blocks, 17.9 minutes

    No player on the Los Angeles Lakers has improved more under Mike D'Antoni than Jodie Meeks, whose value has skyrocketed since the coaching change. 

    Meeks thrives as a catch-and-shoot player from the perimeter. He should experience a level of success comparable to Raja Bell, Quentin Richardson and the other sharpshooting role players who have excelled while playing in D'Antoni's offense. 

    In the eight games he played before D'Antoni's arrival, Meeks never topped seven points in a single game. Since then, he's broken into double figures five times. 

    His offensive rating has also climbed from 73 to 112, using the same splits. 

    Grade: A+

Darius Morris

11 of 13

    Position: PG

    Age: 21

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 6.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks, 21.3 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 3.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 18.4 minutes

    Darius Morris got to enjoy having a spot in the starting lineup during the first few games of Mike D'Antoni's tenure, but he quickly lost the gig as the new coach realized there were better options out there. 

    The Michigan product has shown some brief displays of potential, but he's been largely ineffective for the Los Angeles Lakers. Turnovers in particular were problematic for him while he remained a member of the starting five. 

    Since D'Antoni took over, Morris has struggled on offense and acted like a sieve on defense. That's not a combination that leads to a lot of consistent playing time.

    Grade: F

Robert Sacre

12 of 13

    Position: C

    Age: 23

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 0.3 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.3 blocks, 2.6 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 0.0 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.9 minutes

    Just as was the case with Darius Johnson-Odom, Robert Sacre simply hasn't played enough minutes to be properly analyzed. 

    Since the coaching change, he's only been on the court for less than six minutes. 

    Grade: B

Metta World Peace

13 of 13

    Position: SF

    Age: 33

    Pre-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.4 blocks, 34.2 minutes

    Post-D'Antoni Per-Game Stats: 12.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, 35.5 minutes

    Metta World Peace has declined slightly as an ace perimeter defender while playing under Mike D'Antoni. Perhaps that's the result of the defensive lapses of his teammates and a need to overcompensate. 

    Really though, the difference has been rather marginal. Because the small forward formerly known as Ron Artest already played D'Antoni-style basketball on offense, he hasn't changed his game that much. 

    Overall, the coach's impact on World Peace has been minimal at best. 

    Grade: B