How much faith can you realistically put into Mike D'Antoni's coaching system with a Lakers team that continues to struggle game after game?
And how much of what ails this superstar-studded squad can be blamed on the players and how much of it on their head coach?
Since being hired to replace the fired Mike Brown, D'Antoni has insisted that the Lakers would be a running bunch who would average between 110-115 points a game. If it didn't, he said, the system would be a failure.
Check the stat sheet. The system is a failure.
What are we to assume now that D'Antoni has had the team for almost half of a season? The Lakers are averaging just 102.6 points per game while the defense is giving up six points more than last year.
Frustration continues to mount for a team that was picked by many to win it all after nabbing Dwight Howard and Steve Nash during the offseason. Pau Gasol has been relegated to "permanent" bench status and, as NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal discussed Monday night after the Lakers' 12-point loss in Chicago, the system is what is suffering the most in L.A.
Kobe Bryant spoke up last month to a reporter from AP (via FoxSports.com): ''This is one of the most challenging stretches of my 17 years, and the most baffling, too. 'We have the talent and personnel to do it, but we're not, and it's baffling. It's extremely frustrating."
After Monday's loss, which dropped L.A. to 17-24, Bryant hit the weight room and then the piano, where he played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata to calm himself down.
The system is overheating.