Photo: TW Sports
The Lakers picked Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson because they think he’s a better fit for their current roster, according to ESPN.This is the more Lakers-friendly version of why they didn’t hire Jackson. The LA Times is reporting that the team balked at Phil’s lengthy list of demands.
But the official explanation — that D’Antoni’s system is more conducive to the Lakers roster than Jackson’s — simply doesn’t make sense.
If you’re just looking at which coach is a better match for the this Lakers team, it’s Jackson by a mile.
D’Antoni’s up-tempo system requires three basic things: 1) a ball-dominating point guard, 2) stretch big men who can run the floor, 3) three or (ideally) four three-point shooters on the floor at all times.
The Lakers have exactly one of those, point guard Steve Nash.
If you want to see exactly what D’Antoni needs to run his system, look at his most successful team, the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns.
That team lead the league in three pointers attempted and three-point percentage. Of the nine players who played the most minutes, seven of them took more than 100 three-pointers, and six of them shot better than 38% (above league average).
They also did it without traditional big men. The front court was Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, and Tim Thomas — all of whom are better from the perimeter than the post.
That’s the blueprint for a D’Antoni offence — put Steve Nash on the floor with three other shooters and let him run the show.
The Lakers have Nash, but they don’t have any three-point shooting on the wings — Kobe is a career 33% three-point shooter and Metta World Peace is a career 32% shooter. In addition, their big-men are Dwight Howard (a true centre) and Pau Gasol (a big who can play the perimeter but can’t really run the court is not a stretch 4) — the exact opposite of the type of big men you want in D’Antoni’s system
D’Antoni with this roster is a glaring mismatch. It’s almost as bad of a mismatch as D’Antoni and last year’s Knicks roster — and that ended in disaster.
D’Antoni can certainly adjust, and maybe the presence of Nash will help him avoid what happened in New York last year. But the explanation that Jackson is a bad match for this roster and D’Antoni is a good match doesn’t ring true.
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