Lakers Require A Shot Of Tebow Time
The LA Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. With a fan-base that’s ravenous for success every season and a parade of superstars who’ve all worn the purple and gold, there’s always a bright spotlight on the Staples Center, Jack Nicholson and the team that brought showtime to the NBA.
This season was meant to be no different. Indeed, this season was meant to be one for the Lakers historical annals. The Hollywood script went like this: combine the ageless, deadly Kobe Bryant and the smart and experienced Pau Gasol with superstars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and you’ve got a team ready-made to win a championship this year.
Fast-forward to December 19 2012 and the Lakers have an 11-14 record and are SEVEN games behind the LA Clippers who lead the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.
So what’s gone wrong. Well, firstly Dwight is still recovering from his injury and Nash has been out nearly the whole year thus far. However, neither of these things should leave the Lakers as a team that’s three games under .500. Personally, I think a lot of the blame has to be directed to new head coach Mike D’Antoni.
D’Antoni was brought in to replace Mike Brown, who had struggled getting the confidence of the team, fans and management and for some reason, D’Antoni was chosen over the Zen Master, Phil Jackson. Now D’Antoni is known for his run-and-gun offense – a style that he pioneered with the Phoenix Suns. A D’Antoni offensive system relies on:
1) Pushing the ball at all costs (including at the cost of playing defense),
2) Getting shots up within seven seconds of having the ball
3) Surrounding a center with four perimeter players who can launch three-pointers. However, the real strength of the Lakers’ roster that he inherited was having two of the best big men in the league (Howard and Gasol), combining with one of the best pick-and-roll exponents of the modern era – Steve Nash.
So, did Mike D’Antoni adjust his system a little to accommodate this roster’s strengths? No. In fact, his near-pathological adherence to his one style of play has alienated Gasol to the point where it’s looking inevitable that he’ll be traded. To my mind, when you’re looking at a team that wants success NOW, not fitting your offensive system to your roster is a fatal flaw.
Time and again, we see that the best results are obtained when a coach uses his players’ strengths. The best example that I can think of in recent times is John Fox and the Denver Broncos of 2011-12.
Remember – this was the team that inherited Tim Tebow as it’s starting QB and became successful enough to shock everyone by not only making it to the NFL playoffs, but beating the Steelers in their first playoff game! How did they manage this? Well, Head Coach John Fox swallowed his pride and his playbook and totally created a new system based around Tebow’s particular skill set. Gone was Fox’s pro-style offense and in came Fox’s spread and option attacks that Tebow knew how to roll with.
I think this is the problem with the Lakers. They needed to hire a coach that could adapt around and mould to their superstars, not one that imposed a system upon them. Or D’Antoni needed to acknowledge his personnel and shape his system to them.
Could Nash pull it all together, when he gets back from injury? Maybe…but the Lakers predicament right now worries me. It scares me that their new head coach can’t shift his head to play a different style. Maybe D’Antoni needs to go back and look at last year’s Denver Broncos – they weren’t what anybody (least of all John Fox) expected, but in the end it lead to great success. C’mon Mike – let’s see you let out your inner Tebow and get the Lakers firing again!
So do you agree or am I way off base? Leave us some comments and let us know!