When Lakers’ fans are throwing around blame for the fact the team they thought would be a contender is struggling for the eight spot, pretty much everyone who does not have a first name of Kobe is a target.
But one of the most fired at targets is coach Mike D’Antoni.
D’Antoni’s biggest problem is that he’s not Phil Jackson, who the fans wanted (and D’Antoni gets that). But how much blame can you really throw at a coach brought in eight games into a season where his star point guard was missing the next seven weeks, his star center was moving at half speed due to off-season back surgery, his star power forward missed games due to injury and pretty much everyone has been out for a while?
“I wouldn’t say he’s happy with where we are, just because it’s been a coach’s nightmare in a lot of ways. You’ve had a lot of guys either injured for great stretches, unfamiliar with one another, no training camp to really get the necessary hours in and finding our balance and who we are as a team. So I know it’s disappointing for him and frustrating because he hasn’t been able to really have a full shot at it.”
It’s a valid point. You can say D’Antoni’s system doesn’t really fit the Lakers personnel, but is that really on him or management for bringing him in? They knew what they were getting. And D’Antoni has modified that system dramatically — watch the Lakers game against the Clippers and you’ll see they ran a lot of “horns” and not a lot of vintage D’Antoni transition, drag screens and the rest. He’s adapted.
The bigger question for the Lakers: Does a training camp and some health turn this Lakers team into contenders up there with the Spurs and Thunder in the West? Or is it going to take more than that? It feels like the latter to me.