Early Assessment of Mike D'Antoni's L.A. Lakers Offense
On Friday night, the Lakers accomplished something they hadn't done in 9 days—they won a basketball game. They're hoping that the 102-96 victory over the Wizards is just the beginning of turning around a season that has been filled with nothing but drama and disappointment.
Five games into the season, L.A. went all Donald Trump on Mike Brown, which shot Phil Jackson and Mike D'Antoni's name to the top of the replacement list. The Lakers ultimately chose D'Antoni's run and gun system over the Zen Master's patented triangle offense, hoping that D'Antoni could not only reinvigorate the offense, but also give those at Staples a show while they were at it.
At D'Antoni's introductory press conference, he mentioned trying to bring back 'Showtime' basketball, a recipe that proved successful for the 1980s Laker teams. It's safe to say that what he's gotten out of this team after 13 games into his tenure aren't close to 'Showtime' standards.
So how has the Lakers' offense looked so far under Mike D'Antoni?
Numbers wise, the Lakers' offense isn't all that terrible. They're seventh in the league in scoring (101.8 ppg), seventh in the league in field goal percentage (45.7 percent) and fifth in three-point shooting (38.8 percent).
Getting those numbers isn't the Lakers' issue—how they get them is.
With Steve Nash still injured, they've been forced to run Chris Duhon and Darius Morris out there at point guard. You don't have to be a genius to know that neither of those guys isn't exactly the ideal choice to be running D'Antoni's offense. L.A's numbers in assist percentage has them currently sitting at 20th in the NBA with a 58.5 percent clip.
Their offense has no fluidity or direction right now.
D'Antoni admitted as much before facing off against Washington:
"Every good offense is a rhythm, and our rhythm is offbeat right now," D'Antoni said. "It's like we've got two left shoes, trying to dance."
During D'Antoni's run coaching Phoenix, his teams were never in the bottom half of the league for assist percentage. Dating back to the 2006-2007 season, his Suns teams were ranked third, third, 12th, 11th and sixth, respectively. Of course, he had a specific point guard orchestrating everything: Mr. Steve Nash, who just so happens to be on this Lakers team but hasn't been able to dress, practice or play.
That's what makes it difficult to evaluate whether D'Antoni's system has been successful or not—he doesn't have all of the appropriate tools (Nash and yes, even Gasol) to make that determination.
Nash particularly has a way of making everyone better, as evidenced by his time in Phoenix, and will undoubtedly do the same for the Lakers upon his return. Additionally, his previous experience with D'Antoni on the sideline cannot be understated and will benefit L.A. as the season progresses.
Will all of that translate into the Lakers winning a championship? That remains to be seen, but for now, the Lakers' focus needs to be getting the Canadian healthy and ready for competition so they can truly see everything that Mike D'Antoni has up his sleeves.
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