How Mike D’Antoni Can Ensure a Long Career as LA Lakers Coach

For as much success as Mike D’Antoni had coaching the Phoenix Suns, he had an equally bad stint as the head coach of the New York Knicks. 

While his first season on the sidelines with the Los Angeles Lakers has been somewhat of a disaster so far, there are a few adjustments that could be made to that would undoubtedly lead to better results and ensure a long career with the Lakers.

First of all, the Lakers’ pace is far too fast for the team’s good. According to hoopdata, the Lakers have the fifth fastest pace in the entire league.  While the pace has allowed the Lakers’ offense to thrive, currently eighth in offensive efficiency, it has seriously hindered the team defense.

Last season, the Lakers’ defense finished 13th in the league in efficiency.  This season the Lakers’ defense is ranked 18th.  While that may not sound like a big drop off from one season to the next, this defense revolves around the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard.

There are simply too many possessions in each game because of the Lakers’ pace.  Although the defense could improve if D’Antoni put more of an emphasis on getting stops and Howard were healthy and engaged, the simplest answer is to limit the number of total possessions.

The Lakers have elite talent on offense; they do not need to create all those extra possessions in order to be one of the better offensive teams in the league.  The problem comes on defense, where Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard can be relied upon to play good defense on two different levels of the floor.

Stan Van Gundy’s system with the Orlando Magic was designed to engage Howard on defense on nearly every possession.  The Magic would funnel their defenders into Dwight so he could alter and block shots.  It also helped that defense was one of the top priorities of Van Gundy.&nb...

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