Anybody who has ever watched a Mike D’Antoni coached team in decent dosages knows one thing for certain. Mike loves to run. D’Antoni is a master of spreading the floor with shooters, while his point guard pushes the envelope. This approach did not work last season with D’Antoni’s personnel in Los Angeles, and newly appointed assistant coach, and former Laker, Kurt Rambis, seems to see a problem with this mixture of a run-n-gun coach and older, slower players.
Rambis sounded off in a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times on Thursday:
“The [Lakers] still have big people and I think you have to take advantage of the big people,” Rambis said. “You can’t ignore them because they are an asset to your offense.”
“In order to run, you need a push guard. That’s Steve Nash,” Rambis said. “It remains to be seen whether he’s coming back from his injuries, and continues to [push] at an elite fast-break pace.”
The 39-year old Nash missed 32 games last season in his inaugural season with the Lakers. Kobe Bryant also suffered a late-season injury that has required much rehabilitation. Bryant is far from out of the woods yet, and with uncertainties surrounding Steve Nash’s health, one can only wonder how fast the Lakers can afford to play next season.
The Lakers did add Nick Young, who fills a need within D’Antoni’s system, but they also landed journeyman center, Chris Kamen, a player whose niche is far from fast-paced basketball. The Lakers will need to look to their strengths as a team, rather than D’Antoni’s strengths as a head coach. Mike will need to adapt and play the type of ball that is beneficial to his roster.
“You need guys that can really get out and fill the wings because that pushes the defense down,” said Rambis. “That’s not necessarily the way that you would look at this team and describe them. You might say that with Nick Young, but it’s not necessarily Kobe’s forte nor was it Metta World Peace’s forte last year.”
“It’s difficult for them to run at a real fast pace,” said Rambis. “That doesn’t mean you can’t push the ball and add some thrust into your offense and play offense before the defense is set. That makes it a lot easier.”
The Lakers do have some talent on this roster. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and newcomers Chris Kamen and Nick Young, all have tools to win games, but the health of LA’s guards (Nash and Bryant) will be the real test for this team, as they look to make the post season.