Mike D'Antoni's Offensive Legacy And Its One Merit

Coaching is a difficult job.  Head coaches just starting into the league bring in their NBA knowledge and apply it.  They think it’s what works best to win games.  That’s all they know.  Mike Brown did it with defense, but the focus shifted to offense.  Mike D’Antoni did it with offense and tempo.

Something good came out of that.

The 3-point shot is kind of important in today’s game. Additionally, Pro Basketball Talk broke down the fact that of all the things the Lakers did terribly last year, shooting 3s was something they actually did well.

In other words, the Lakers were more efficient on 3-pointers last season than any team has ever been on all shots. – Matt Moore, CBSsports.com

In a game changing with a focus on analytics, words in a string like points-per-possession account for offensive efficiency.  Taking a barrage of three-point shots and hitting at a good clip, does not make a winning team.

With the injury-plagued Laker roster of last year, I think that the Lakers had overachieved all season long.  What kind of team loses starters and All-Star players out of their lineup and competes well?  How many different starting lineups did we see last year?

The traditional way to win games was through defense, momentum, and shot selection.  The Lakers didn’t really play defense.  The shot selection wasn’t that great.  But, what Mike D’Antoni taught, was riding a wave of offensive momentum, caused by pushing the tempo, taking high percentage shots in semi-transition, and taking the open three-point shot when it was open.

• The Lakers were actually seventh in percentage of total shots that were three point attempts.

• The six teams ahead of them in percentage of shots that were threes were all mostly good offenses (per 100 possessions): Houston (4th), Miami (5th), Phoenix (8th), New York (11th), Brooklyn (14th) and Atlanta (18th).

The Lakers did that to the tune of 27 wins.  That number sounds pathetic to most Laker fans.  Yet, the Lakers overachieved anyway.  They weren’t supposed to win 27 games.  When a team loses Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, they’re supposed to be a .200 team; 16 wins.  Yet, somehow, the Lakers won more games than the defensive oriented and high-energy play of the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Detroit Pistons with Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond, and Josh Smith accounted for just two more wins than the Lakers.  The Sacramento Kings ran with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay for a total of 28 wins.  Does anyone else find this amazing?

If there is something to be learned, it is that Mike D’Antoni’s offensive philosophies has its merits.  Coach Byron Scott was very clear about emphasizing defense and effort all season long.  He even promised it to the Laker fans.  While we love that idea, the bottom line is, we want to win games.

If that means taking a few more three-pointers, then take them.  The Lakers have shown to be pretty good at it, even with the roster changes.  Just include some post play, half-court execution, and dribble-penetration too.

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