It's been quite a rough start for Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni in beginning his career coaching the one team he had previously spent years trying to thwart. With constant losses and the continuous asking of "whodunnit?" serving as an enormous chip on the Lakers' collective shoulders, D'Antoni has been the face of criticism from the Laker Nation.
However, this isn't to say that the former NBA Coach of the Year hasn't improved. L.A. has seen some significant improvement over the past few games, sporting an impressive road record against competitive teams. Here are some adjustments D'Antoni has made toward his goal of having the Lake Show live up to this season's hype.
D'Antoni has quickly realized that while he does have a reliable asset in Kobe Bryant, he does not have to utilize him as the key executor of every play.
He can now be seen utilizing Bryant as a facilitator having him call plays and making sure guys like Steve Nash can get into the key and score the easy point.
Not every head coach boasts the fact that they have a quintessential All-Star lineup as his starting five, and it's obvious that D'Antoni has had his share of problems in dealing with superstar players like Bryant, Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard.
Quite possibly the biggest issue he has had to work through has been the numerous ego trips among the five of them. At first, it was a textbook case of common mismanagement; everyone got to say and do what they wanted, and D'Antoni would let them run amuck.
During the past few games, it seems as though D'Antoni has made some progress in getting them all to work as a team, all for the sake of winning. Now, he's no zen master, but he truly is demonstrating that cooler heads prevail.
To piggyback on the previous point, part of D'Antoni's success in controlling the egos of his squad has to be contributed to his ability to communicate better with his players. Known for being hard-headed and borderline unreasonable, he sure has been demonstrating a changing of the guard when it comes to adapting to his new environment.
It's safe to say he's come a long way from telling reporters that they're "pissing him off."
And speaking of cooler heads, the man who once coached Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin has done a fair job in not letting his temper get the best of him as of late.
To further elaborate on the issue D'Antoni had with a reporter this season, most people will remember a Los Angeles Times reporter hounding D'Antoni with questions during a post-game press conference, to which he responded, "You know, you're really starting to piss me off."
D'Antoni has put in some work since then, and is finally adjusting himself to be the leader this team needs.
In doing so, he is finally demonstrating the maturity and responsibility befitting of a head coach.
This point is serving as more of an aggregate of the previous ones. Because he's compromised with his offensive strategy, doing a good job in controlling All-Star egos, becoming an effective communicator and a calmer and less-confrontational leader, he has truly learned his place in this convoluted puzzle that is this Lakers team.
He's given more freedom to his players, allowing them to figure each other out and be a more cohesive unit. For example, we are now seeing more and more of Howard as the defensive threat he is known for being, getting more and more hungry for blocks and rebounds and Nash if finally showing his prowess at scoring and even assisting an easy play, just to name a few instances.
A popular statement when it comes to motivating people is, "You need to lead, follow, or get out of the way."
A combination of the three can't be too bad, right? It sure is working for this squad, and is showing that big things are coming for the purple and gold.