5 Mistakes Mike D'Antoni Has Made Since Joining the L.A. Lakers
So far, it’s going about as well as when Tim Taylor tries to fix something.
The Lakers were picked by many to reach the NBA Finals this year, right now they are just hoping to obtain a .500 record.
Things can get better for the Lakers; afterall, not everyone has been healthy, and there has just been too much change to develop the chemistry needed to win in the NBA.
So far D'Antoni has done more harm than good. Here are five mistakes that he has made that must be corrected in order to reverse the Lakers' downward spiral.
*All stats in this article are accurate of December 21, 2012.
I get it.
D'Antoni didn’t want to embarrass Dwight Howard, the same player the Lakers hope to re-sign after the season, by sending him to bench at crunch time.
But you know what’s even more embarrassing than getting benched in the waning minutes?
The Lakers win-loss record.
If he is going to keep Howard in the game for defensive purposes, then he must figure out a way to at least minimize his trips to the line.
What good is Dwight's defense if the Lakers are not going to get any points on the offensive end? And what good is keeping him happy enough to re-sign next season if you yourself are not going to be around?
Another team will deploy the Hack-a-Howard strategy again this season, and D'Antoni can’t allow it to cost L.A. another victory.
Playing Kobe Bryant Too Much
Kobe Bryant is averaging over 38 minutes a game this season. Keep in mind he is in his 17th season.
Tim Duncan, in his 16th season, is playing 30 minutes a night and is getting as many games off as David Stern allows.
When the playoffs start, who do you think is going to be more rested? Yes, the Lakers still have to get postseason, but if they do make it, what good is it to have a broken-down Bryant?
And the for the Lakers to have their best chance to win, Kobe needs to be playing. But it’s not like the Lakers are winning with him logging a ton of minutes. So why doesn’t D'Antoni give him more rest and see what happens? That will pay off in the long run, and the Lakers are just too talented to not at least garner an eight seed.
Not Playing Jordan Hill Enough
Jordan Hill is currently out with back spasms. Maybe he got them from muscle atrophy?
Hill’s minutes have dropped significantly since D'Antoni took over, and there is no real explanation for it. He can really get up and down the floor, which should be a plus the way D'Antoni likes to play, and it’s not like the Lakers have a ton of big men who play as hard as Hill does every night.
So why isn’t he out there?
Hill really came into his own after he escaped the D'Antoni-coached New York Knicks and became a solid backup and capable starter. D'Antoni would be wise to make a healthy Hill a part of the regular rotation.
Trying to Run Showtime
If D'Antoni is trying to recreate his old Phoenix Suns teams with his current roster, then the Lakers are in big trouble.
Only one of his present starters, Howard, is under the age of 30, and he is coming off back surgery! Not exactly a lineup that screams for the need to run up and down the floor all game.
And the results have spoken for themselves thus far this season.
Even when Steve Nash and Pau Gasol return to combine with one of the NBA's all-time leading scorers and a healthy Howard, "Showtime" basketball still doesn't seem like the best fit.
D'Antoni needs to figure out an offensive game plan that best suits the age and skill sets of his current players. Then we will find out if he is indeed an offensive genius.
The Lack of Defense
Somewhere Mike Brown is smiling.
The Lakers are putting up more points since D'Antoni took over, but an argument can be made that the increase in scoring has come about only because the lack of defense is creating more offensive opportunities.
Los Angeles currently stands 15th in terms of defensive efficiency. That’s right behind the 3-20 Washington Wizards. The Lakers struggle with simple rotations and getting back in transition. They are playing defense like they don’t care.
These things can all be fixed, however. Plus, Howard will only get better as his health improves, Gasol is a defensive upgrade over Antawn Jamison and with a stronger effort from everyone, including Bryant, this defense can improve.
D'Antoni needs to fix the team's disregard for defensive fundamentals and get the Lakers to make a concentrated resolution to play team defense. Otherwise, things are not going to improve just because the team gets healthy.
If he can fix these few problems once everyone gets back healthy, D'Antoni just might be able to get the Lakers playing winning basketball. More importantly for him, he can get the crowd to stop chanting, “We want Phil” every game.