Mike D’Antoni Deserves Credit for Keeping LA Lakers’ Mess Afloat

Mike D’Antoni is probably the top villain in the City of Angels, but he deserves somewhat of a pass.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been decimated by injuries, and yet, the coaching staff has kept the team from completely drifting into the abyss. The Lake Show currently resides near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but one could say the players have overachieved.

With the All-Star break a little over two weeks away, fans still have not had the chance to watch Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash share the court together this season.

Considering that they are the best players on the team, that’s a fairly important piece of information. Consider what the Miami Heat would look like without LeBron James and Chris Bosh all season. It probably would not be a pretty sight in South Beach.

D’Antoni has been faced with this dilemma and produced some interesting results. He has managed to max out the talent at his disposal. Indeed, a quick look up and down the roster reveals that some of the players are enjoying the best season of their respective careers.

For instance, Kendall Marshall is technically second in league assists per game. He does not qualify among the league leaders because he has not appeared in enough games (to qualify, a player must be on pace to play 70 games or dish out 400 assists), but it’s clear that he is finding his teammates in the right positions.

It bears mentioning that Marshall was out of the league when the season started. The Lakers signed him when Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar went down with injuries.

Marshall is hardly D’Antoni’s lone success story this campaign. Xavier Henry is another reclamation project who has flourished in Los Angeles. In his first three seasons in the NBA, he averaged 4.5 points in 14.4 minutes per game, according to Basketball-Reference.

As a member of the Lake...

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