As a former suns/Nash fan’s perspective – here’s a couple things to expect once D’Antoni gets offence up and running
Secondary break – yes SSOL signature look was the fast break and wide open transition buckets, however what people don’t realize what made it so effective was the easy looks the suns got after the initial break and resulting confusion. While all defenders are hustling back and picking up the first person they can find and stopping the ball – often post players wings were left open. Look for Pau. D Howard, J Hill to get lots of easy buckets simply by jogging down the floor slowly into the play – only to get hit with a pass mid stride as they hit the foul line by Nash. This isn’t random, but orchestrated that trailers always fill the lanes and run the court with the first men down court effectively acting as decoys.
Pau won’t be a stretch 4 – SSOL played with 1 inside and 4 around sometimes but not all – Boris Diaw was not a stretch four and rarely attempted long twos/3′s shots. His range and skill level is a lesser version of Pau’s. Look for Pau to fill the high post, flashing in and out as Diaw did and being the facilitator for the team especially on occasions when Nash is out. Pau’s scoring may decrease but his overall contributions may go up in terms of assists etc.. Once him and Howard get accustomed you’ll see lots of lobs from this area to the rim on rolls/of picks etc.. Nash never threw a tonne of lobs due to his distance from the hoop – but Diaw and Marion hooked up a fair amount on oops – much easier pass when its coming from someone who can see over the D. Because the suns never had a strong back up pg behind Nash – they often used Diaw as their pt forward – Look for this to happen if the Lakers don’t feel they have a strong half court facilitator when Kobe/Nash are off the court.
Everyone has a green light – if you don’t shoot you’re not a threat. As long as the shot is open, D’Antoni expects you to take it; if you don’t shoot you’re a liability and he’ll bench you. The idea being that by shooting in transition or early – a player is more likely to have time and space and be in rhythm to take a good shot. Why spend 20 seconds working the ball around when at 8-9 secs you can get a wide open look because the other team isn’t back and set yet. Jodie Meeks , Blake, Jamison et al should see an uptick in their percentages because they are going to be encouraged to shoot when they receive the ball – and they’ll have more space and time than before (why do you think Jared Dudley suddenly became a legit 3 pt threat). Regular NBA players who shoot 25-30 percent from 3 suddenly get a lot better when they get wide open looks – confidence breeds competence etc… like PJ, but differently D’Antoni tries to put players in positions to maximize their talents.
Mike D’Antoni showing why players love him in discussing Jodie Meeks: “The only time (he) needs to shoot it is when he touches the ball…”
The one caveat is Artest – he’s turned into a bit of a chucker so far – though he is developing into a reasonable corner 3 shooter. Look for D’Antoni to maximize Artests touches in motion towards the basket so that he has no choice but to take it strong (which gets him in scoring position but limits him trying to create which is where he makes things ugly) – and he’ll also be instructed to run to the corners – which is a good shot for him and clears out the lane.
Note about short rotation complaint w D’Antoni – He was the coach from 04-08 of the suns – and yes during that time he usually did run with only a 7-8 player rotation max – that included no real backup of even Duhon or Blake’s quality for Nash. Here’s a linkhttp://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/PHO/
Take a peak at the rosters from 2004-08 and see what he had to work with beyond the top 7-8 players. Not a hell of a lot there for a team that was contending for championships. On this team D’Antoni has Jamison, Hill, Meeks, plus 3 legit guard backups in Blake (who will get mins as a 2 alongside Nash in a spread the floor setup), Duhon (who had his best years running w D’Antoni in NY), Darius (when hes good) Morris (whens he’s bad – according to our site mod!) who – during the San Antonio game looked like a legit change of pace/pressure and d’up pg. That’s 6 players who – when mixed in with the starters – start looking like not a bad bench
Eubanks I’m not sold on and Earl Clark is riding out a rookie contract – Sacre is a practice body.