NBA Basketball Column: Jump Ball with Matt McCloskey
A Necessary Change
When you have such high expectations, the room for error is small and the leash is short for everyone involved, which is what led the Los Angeles Lakers to making a quick decision on firing Mike Brown. While it may be a hasty choice, though, it was definitely the right one.
Brown sealed his own fate by adopting the Princeton offence as the team's offensive philosophy. For those that don't know what the Princeton offence is, it's a passive system that has the center in the high post and the other four players on the perimeter swinging the ball around and keeping in motion so that a mismatch can be made. This is an effective offence for teams without a true point guard and need a way of creating offence. You can obviously see why this is an awful choice for this team, they have a pure point guard who has won two MVP's leading their offence, why would you pay Steve Nash big money to come lead your team and then take the ball out of his hands? Quite simply a stupid choice on Mike Brown's part.
This led to an 0-8 pre-season and 1-4 start to the season. Brown's poor choice was a major reason they struggled because he limited his offensive stars potential. And now he's out of a job.
The Laker's have chosen to go with Mike D'Antoni over waiting to hear back from Phil Jackson, which in some people's eyes is a mistake but it most certainly is not. First, Jackson was more interested making demands than being the team's coach, which is what probably made the decision to go with D'Antoni, someone who would just want to be in the loop and coach, a heck of a lot easier. Secondly, it was time to move on from Jackson, who has been their fall back guy when his replacement couldn't cut it for far too long. D'Antoni has proved he can make players look amazing on the offensive end of the floor, but he will need the help from the likes of Bernie Bickerstaff and company to come up with defensive schemes. The difference for D'Antoni with the Lakers as oppose to the rest of his stops is that he has elite defenders in Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard to help him look good in that end of the floor.
The third reason comes down to the X's and O's. Jackson's triangle offence while proven effective, takes a lot of time and practice for new comers like Nash, Howard and Antwan Jamison to get used to, and would be especially hard to get implemented with the season underway and no training camp to teach the system. D'Antoni's system is much simpler, push the ball, shoot the ball, run back on defence. Considering the age of the current roster, I don't expect the same run and gun, shoot in seven seconds or less style he had in Phoenix and New York, so D'Antoni will have to make some adjustments to his philosophy, something he was unwilling to do in New York. The use of the pick and roll will be one of their biggest weapons now, opening up a lot of options for Nash. Hopefully D'Antoni has grown as a coach, because if he hasn't, this will go sour fast. But there is a big difference between his tenure in New York and his opportunity in LA. In New York his marquee player (Carmelo Anthony) and he didn't get a long and made it an impossible situation. In LA he has Nash who won two MVP awards under D'Antoni, and Kobe Bryant who grew up watching and adoring D'Antoni play in Italy when he was younger. Plus he and Howard were coached by him on the U.S Olympic team the past few years.
As long as D'Antoni is able to create an offence that suites his roster, something Brown couldn't do, then he will be fine. Of the three candidates, Jackson, D'Antoni and former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, the best choice was D'Antoni. Now it's up to him and the Lakers players to make people believe again that they are the favorites to take the title this season.
The 15th overall pick of the 2010 draft is finally living up to his potential and has surpassed veteran Samuel Dalembert on the depth chart. Through seven games he is averaging 10.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and is shooting 65% from the field. The Bucks will give him all the opportunities to shine as they don't have good post options other than Ilyasova, who is more of a hybrid tweener forward. He's a must add at this point.
E'Twaune Moore – PG/SG – Orlando Magic
It would appear that the Celtics gave up too quickly on their second round pick from 2011. Moore was let go in the off-season and has found a place to blossom in Orlando. The 6'4 combo guard has averaged 13.3 points, 4.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and is shooting 46.7% from 3-point range. With Jameer Nelson hurt, there are fewer options to handle the ball, increasing Moore's chances of productivity. He provides a very balanced stat line so don't wait on him.
A.J Price – PG – Washington Wizards
Since John Wall is injured, it was supposed to be Jordan Crawford's time to shine as a scorer and playmaker, but with the exception of his game against the Mavericks where he put up 21 points and seven assists, he has been a disappointment thus far. Price on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise. He is averaging 10.1 points, 6.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and is shooting 32% from 3-point range, averaging two makes a game. This pick has a shelf life, because once Wall returns his value drops to non-existent unless Wall gets hurt again, but in the mean time, he's a solid pick up.
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