Mike D’Antoni will be calling his first game as the head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Phoenix Suns tonight at the Staples Center. The expectations of success for the embattled head coach will be at its highest since his hiring was looked at as a means for Jim Buss to snub legendary head coach Phil Jackson over coaching this talented squad. Everyone in the NBA community knew the way this team was assembled there was only one coached primed to lead them to #18. Clearly no one expected that the name Mike D’Antoni would be the one resonating as the franchises 22nd head coach, so the room for error will be minuscule for D’Antoni as he begins to implement his “high-octane” offense which if successful produces high risk-high reward. There is no reward greater than an NBA Championship which has eluded him while running the show in Phoenix. As the New York Knicks head coach (2008-2011), he only amassed 1 season in which the team cleared . 500 barely making the playoffs before getting swept out of the 1st round. In order for D’Antoni to pull of the ultimate heist for Jim Buss , the team must buy in to what he’s going to fuse into their offensive scheme. Kobe must accept that when a healthy Steve Nash returns to the court that the offense will flow through him primarily.
While everyone knows that the Lakers will undoubtedly increase their offensive productivity, currently 12th in the league, the question will be how much of their defensive will be compromised? The Lakers are 11th in the league and have shown a much improved effort recently to limit their opponents now to 94.1 points per game.
The bench is far from deep and if you couple that with D’Antoni’s philosophy to use a short bench, starters legs could falter down the home stretch at the expense of his system. Things in LA can be dicey rather quickly if the fiery Italian head coach doesn’t immediately put a little zest in the Lakers’s sauce who ride a mini 2 game winning streak under interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff bringing their record to 4-5, a place I’m sure neither Kobe or the Lakers expected to be in this early in year given the schedule they have started with.
Its very clear that the only people who truly believe that a championship run under the helm of D’Antoni can be done is Jim Buss, Steve Nash and D’Antoni himself, while everybody is gonna have to wait and see how this script will play out come June. The road to the O’Brien Trophy will be through him and he will have to channel his inner “Charlie Hustle” to direct these cast of characters and put them in a position make it to the NBA Finals in a wide open Western Conference. Anything less than that would be considered fool’s gold. In the NBA this is considered an “uphill battle” but to the LA faithful, consider this the Italian Job.
About the Author
Written by Cal Lee
An Avid follower of all sports. Played Athletics in High School and College. Baseball is my favorite sport, but am very much in tune with Football, Basketball. Currently covering major sporting events, and aspiring to be involved in Sports Entertainment through a Media Capacity. Currently Media Correspondent/Contributor for CBS Interactive GameCore