L.A. Lakers Ditch Mike D’Antoni’s Offense to Restore Missing Identity

Mike D'Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers have found success by butchering the head coach's offensive system.

It didn't take long to see that the uptempo style of play D'Antoni is known to preach wasn't suited for a team with two prolific big men and an absence of athletically inclined wings. Still, the Lakers put the ball in Steve Nash's hands and were forced to believe that everything would be fine.

But everything wasn't fine.

At the season's midway point, Los Angeles had won just 17 games and was rapidly falling out of the Western Conference playoff picture. Both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard appeared lost, and Kobe Bryant was still hoisting up shots like he was allergic to passing.

Just when you thought the Lakers were done for, that Howard was preparing to bolt in free agency and the team itself about to implode, everything changed. And I mean everything.

To the surprise of, well, everyone, Los Angeles didn't just tweak or manipulate its offensive blueprint, it massacred it.

The ball is still moving, and you can see the footprints of a sense of offensive urgency. Yet aside from that, the Lakers have looked nothing like a D'Antoni-coached faction. 

Not only has the ball run through the post more than D'Antoni himself would care to count, but Nash has assumed the role of a scorer, not playmaker. He's averaged 16 points per game over the last two but just 3.5 assists.


Well, get ready to be baffled.

With Nash attempting to play off the ball more, someone has had to step in, distribute the ball and facilitate the team's offense. That someone is neither Chris Duhon nor Darius Morris. It's Bryant. And I kid you not.

In the last two games, Kobe has averaged just 17.5 points, which is more than 10 points below his season average of 28.7. Most could consider this cause for concern bordering on panic. Whenever Bryant drops less t...

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