Now I'm not gonna sit here, lie, and say I wasn't a little dissapointed when the I found the Lakers had hired Mike D'Antoni as the new head coach instead of Phil Jackson. Sometimes as fans we are very impatient and rush judgement without considering that this front office has gotten it done so many times and they clearly now how to get it done.
Like alot of Lakers fans and Kobe even said it as well I felt Phil didn't go out the right way. Now that I've thought about it Mike is the better choice for a few reasons.
First off the Mitch Kupchack was absolutely correct in saying the triangle offense wouldn't fit our roster very well. Only three players really have experience playing it in their respective career and that's the only four players remaining from the last time the Lakers ran the triangle. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, and Steve Blake. It's widely known that in the triangle offense you don't typically use an actual point guard and your point guard usually is used as a spot up shooter. With that in mind the triangle as good of an offense as it's been would've severely limited Steve Nash. Nash as we saw in Phoenix is the ultimate pick and roll player. With Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol argurably the two pick and roll bigs in the league this Lakers team will be very deadly in pick and roll situations. I've studied Mike's offense and it's one where you put the ball in the point guards hands very often. He'll run pick and roll, pick and pop, and also have the floor spread properly for penetration and kick outs. That's why Phoenix was so deadly offensively. They had a great pick and role tandem in Nash and Amare Stoudamire, but also terrific shooters. Guys like Kobe who has shot very well this season, and also guys like World Peace, Jamison, Blake, and Jodie Meeks will need to be able to knock down open shots consistently.
The thing about Mike D'Antoni one thing you always hear is he doesn't preach defense which is quite honestly not true. You have to look at the rosters he had and especially in New York they were poorly constructed and didn't have many quality defensive talent. In Phoenix he really didn't have a lockdown defender or a shot blocking paint presence. That's not be the case in Los Angeles. You have obviously Kobe and World Peace, two solid perimeter defenders and then obviously Dwight Howard who when gets back is without question the best defensive player in the league. You saw the other night what a great help and pick and roll defender that Dwight is and he's only gonna be even more dominant when he gets back to full strength.
I also think D'Antoni is unfairly criticized for not having a championship. You look at Phoenix they played in a very brutal Western Conference. In 2004-2005 they signed Steve Nash and had a terrific regular season. Joe Johnson than got injured and wasn't the same player against the Spurs. They lost in 5 games. The next season Amare Stoudamire had to undergo knee surgery and missed the entire season. Most thought Phoenix would struggle to make the playoffs yet and still they had one of the best records in the league and were a couple of games away from the Finals. The next season they got Amare back and it took him awhile to get back to form, but he did eventually. They were about to even the series with San Antonio in 2007 when one of the most polarizing incidents in NBA history occurred. Robert Horry threw Steve Nash right into the scorer's table. Amare left the bench and was suspended for game 5 which Phoenix obviously lost. They got eliminated in San Antonio. The next season Phoenix was very up and down during the regular season and decided to make a very risky trade by getting Shaquille O'Neal. They got into the postseason as the #6 seed. I was actually at the first game which was absolutely crazy. Phoenix led by double digits until San Antonio stormed back. The Suns were up by 3 and then Tim Duncan hit a game winning tying pointer to send the game to overtake. I remember looking at my buddy like did that really just happen. San Antonio went on to win the game and eventually the series and D' Antoni was fired.
He obviously got a job in New York the next season with the Knicks. In the first couple of years for Mike he was given a roster that just wasn't for very good yet they were still somewhat competitive. They had alot of guys on short term deals because they were trying to get LeBron James via free agency in 2010. They didn't get him and instead they gave a max a contract to Amare Stoudamire also signed Raymond Felton. They got off to a very good start and folks in New York were finally thrilled to be seeing a competitive and probable playoff team. Then in February they got absolutely robbed in a trade. They traded Raymond Felton, Galino Dalinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofthy Mozgov for Carmelo Anthony. They gave up three key rotation players for a guy they could've and would've gotten in free agency. The team's depth was decimated and as a result they got swept. They didn't do much to improve the roster and as a result they got off to a mediocre start and Mike stepped down.
Now when you look at all the circumstances with Phoenix. Playing in a brutal conference, having an untimely suspension, and untimely injuries to key players you could see why D'Antoni failed to win a championship. In New York he was just given a poorly constructed roster and that's why that was a mediocre team. Given the talent in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, his former player Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol I have alot of confidence in this guy to deliver a championship. He's been so close before, but now he has more talent than ever before. I believe in Mike. I also believe he's incredibly hungry because he knows what his rep is fair or not. He knows what's at stake and the expectations that are there. This is an excellent opportunity for him to fix his reputation as a basketball coach. Mike D'Antoni will coach this team to a championship.