Recent reports have Mike D’Antoni staying (while his brother, Dan took the University of Marshall head coaching position) as the head coach of the Lakers and this baffles me.
Fellow contributor EJ has explained why, the fact he has a year left on his deal and they are looking towards the 2015 free agent class. But, they have a guy sitting in the Time Warner Cable SportsNet studio that is a better coach. Byron Scott is a former Laker and has the chops to step in and get instant respect.
I’ve stated it before, when Kobe Bryant was a rookie….the Lakers brought back Scott to finish out his career and mentor the young Kobe. We all know any coaching hire has to be “approved” by Bryant and Scott would be the perfect hire in my opinion.
Bringing back D’Antoni just seems like a waste of another season. His coaching blunders were many, almost too many to talk about here. But, the glaring one was playing Wesley Johnson out of position at power forward or as it’s known the stretch four. I don’t remember the exact game, but D’Antoni played Johnson at the position for about 10 games or so and he was abused on the defensive end of the floor, despite being one of their better defenders. In high heels, Johnson is barely 6-feet 7 inches tall and he was playing against a seven footer and it was just absolutely brutal to watch as he got posted up repeatedly.
Sure, on offense Johnson was able to draw the defender out to the 3-point line and create space for other players to drive to the basket, but it didn’t make up for the fact Johnson had no shot on defense. And that’s the biggest issue with a D’Antoni-coached team.
Defense, or the lack thereof. The Lakers allowed 109.2 points per game, 29th in the NBA. The only team that was worse? The Philadelphia 76ers were the only team in the league that allowed more, 109.9ppg. They also allowed opponents to convert 46.8% of their field goal attempts, 26th in the league.
As bad as the team was, scoring wasn’t an issue. Los Angeles averaged 103ppg, 11th in the NBA. The Lakers made 45% of their field goal attempts (14th) and 38.1% of their 3-pointers (3rd), but they were too reliant on the outside shot, another D’Antoni flaw. He was unable to utilize Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol last season and during this season, he struggled to implement Gasol into the offense. Gasol posted solid numbers (17.4ppg, 9.7 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists per game) but he was often standing around the 3-point line and not down in the low post. D’Antoni seems lost when it comes to big men and almost like he’d be more comfortable with 4 or 5 guards in the starting lineup, jacking up 3’s all game long. They were able to score against even the best defensive teams. But, the defense was their biggest problem all season long.
Regarding the 2015 free agent class, there are no guarantees they will come to Los Angeles. So, why wait to fire him right before you go free agent shopping. If they fired him now and made a solid coaching hire, the pending free agents would see what the Lakers are doing now…rather than firing him at the end of next season and hoping to lure players here.
Keeping D’Antoni makes very little sense to me, especially since Kobe has seemingly lost interest in playing for him next season. And he has a no-trade clause. D’Antoni should be gone.
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