Marion: D’Antoni’s System Title-Worthy, But Will It Work With Lakers’ Roster?

DALLAS – Shawn Marion is definitive on the subject: The 2005-06 Phoenix Suns, even with Amar’e Stoudemire sidelined basically the entire season, should have won it all.

But they didn’t, succumbing to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the West finals. The next season, the infamous Steve Nash bloody nose and Robert Horry hip-check more or less blew up the championship aspirations of the Mike D’Antoni-era Suns, the 7-seconds-or-less bullet train that had rocked the league and produced a two-time MVP in Nash … but ultimately couldn’t completely bust down the door of NBA conformity.

And so the skepticism came ringing on cue when the Los Angeles Lakers surprisingly pulled a Heisman on Phil Jackson and hired D’Antoni.

Is it just that simple? Is D’Antoni’s style a blueprint for postseason failure? Or can age, added wisdom and a dominant defensive center turn close calls into a championship?

“Yeah,” Marion said, flashing a bewildered look as if the question was not worthy of an answer. “Hell yeah.”

But just then, Marion — who was with the Suns for all five of D’Antoni’s seasons — started thinking about D’Antoni’s new team in contrast to his old ones.

“We had guys that could spread the floor,” Marion said. “In D’Antoni’s system, 1 (point guard) through 4 (power forward) shot 3s, and the 5-man rolled and set screens and popped. It’s different. You’ve got two big men now (Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard), two solid big men down low. It’s a little different. I don’t know what kind of sets he’s going to run. He might change it. We were young and fast. It’s all about matchups and personnel. With him going to the Lakers, it’s a big team.”

Cyberspace is crammed with debates about which Lakers will benefit and which won’t from D’Antoni’s system. Marion’s take on the 3-point shot is especially noteworthy. Those Suns flung it: The ’05-’06 team launched 2,097 3-pointers. Nash, Marion and Raja Bell put up 1,078 by themselves. Last season’s Lakers, albeit in a 66-game schedule, shot 1,112 as a team, and 1,487 the season before.

These Lakers — with Nash out all but 1 1/2 games — rank 12th both in 3s attempted per game (20.7) and made (6.9). Reserve Jodie Meeks is as close to a long-ranger sharpshooter as they possess, but he’s off to an awful start.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is a big D’Antoni fan and didn’t hesitate to suggest that he will scheme to the strengths of his personnel. In 2007, when Carlisle was out of a coaching job and working as an analyst for ESPN, he visited Suns training camp to pick up on D’Antoni’s system.

“Everybody has incorporated some of those concepts, and it’s held the test of time,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of the smartest basketball people I’ve ever known and he’ll adjust well to their personnel, too.”

But those are offensive concepts. What about all the defensive criticism?

“They played a high-possession style and their defensive numbers were much better than people realized,” Carlisle said. “The fact opponents scored a little more points than some of the other well-known possession defensive teams was a function of the number of possessions in the game, but he always was very good at getting (the opponent) to do things you didn’t want to do, and some of the time it was playing fast.”

There are obviously contrasting opinions on the subject. Marion dismisses criticism suggesting those Suns teams were collectively deficient on the defensive end or even ill-prepared to make crunch-time stops. Although the Lakers have struggled defensively this season, Marion noted a backbone of Howard, Kobe and Metta World Peace gives D’Antoni a core that should be quite capable of defending and running with Nash.

“Definitely. You’ve got Dwight Howard as your anchor,” said Marion, who does give pause to the Lakers’ older roster compared to the young legs of his Suns team in making a seamless transition.

“It’s not up to me to decide if they’re going to be good or not. Right now, the thing is with these teams, everybody is so young and athletic, different things are going on, different matchups. Everybody is trying to take advantage of mismatches they got so if you got mismatches at certain positions and you’re able to take advantage of certain things, you can’t hide it.

“It’s going to be interesting.”

44 Comments

  1. ddd says:

    the best thing that lal needs right now is being motivated cause they have lot of talents howard bryant gasol nash ect, they just need someone to motivate them and to organise their talents and i think d’antoni will do a very good job at this point. lal fan 4 life goo lal

  2. Horny Man says:

    Ahhhh…Kobe’s wife. Vanessa ! awwww yes !

  3. MANILA BOY PHILIPPINES says:

    BEFORE FANS SAYIN FIRED MIKE AND NOW BROWN IS DONE GET ANOTHER PLAYER, WE IN MIAMI ARE CONFUSING IN WHAT NEVERLAND FANS SAYIN. ADD 3 TO 5 MORE SUPERSTAR ON UR NEVERLAND TEAM JUST TO SATISFY UR SELF BUTTTTTTTT DONT THINK U’LL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON AND THE SEASONS TO COME PERIOOODDDDD…….

  4. roseller castillo says:

    after change the coach now change the back up players, i mean the bench players, it would be better when pau gasol going to the bench for dwight, L.A nid a good players in bench.

  5. Moha says:

    it was a good choice its just that phil has experince with pau,world peace And Kobe.

  6. Lakers#1 says:

    I like Gregg Popovichs answer about the Lakers coach decision. “Bringing back Phil would be like putting the Soviet Union back together”.

    I love Phil Jackson but his triangle offense does not take advantage of a great PG like Steve Nash. Besides, when the Lakers had Phil Jackson and most of the current lineup they lost 4-0 to the Mavs in the playoffs.

    I’m looking forward to the D’Antoni era!

    I’m just hoping that Jamison and Meeks can find a way to improve right now. They are not on fire so to speak!

  7. BRIKS says:

    they’re just too fast and can respond immediately on defense..

  8. BRIKS says:

    and the Lakers play so slow, unlike the other teams they got young superstars…

  9. BRIKS says:

    Lakers can’t win a championship this season, because of their bench players, unlike the Heat and Thunder, they have a support from the bench players and they’re both good when it comes to offense and defense…

  10. trish1999 says:

    Marion is real deal fo sure, he plays fo coach Mike D’Antoni for 5 conecutve years..he knows the system in and out..i think it will also benefits the lakers in the long run, they may not end up playing the 7SOL system, or the showtime Era,… i think Mike D’Antoni is smart enough to come up with this type of offense for the Lakers..Remember that he is the one who orchestrate th offense of the olympic teams…lets wait for that time until coach mike come to the Laker bench,,,

  11. anthony says:

    the MAIN problem Lakers have is the bench players. They don’t have a deep rotation. When people say Miami vs Lakers, As much as I hate to say it, Miami will just wipe the Lakers, Lewis, Allen, Battier, are better than Lakers Blake, Duhon, Ebanks, Morris (people that aren’t even well known). The only decent bench player they got is Jamison, and for his whole NBA career, he was the best player on extremely bad teams. Unless Lakers can juice up their bench players with people that can produce like the Miami bench, there’s no chance they will get a title before Kobe retiring and Howard leave.

  12. Andrés says:

    A little advise from a soccer fan about what i’ve read on this comments.
    Everybody is calling for D in order to win championiships, beware of that, we’ve done it before and now almost everybody is defending in soccer and the game is becaming boring and borind day by day.
    When you got a system well executed by good players, you’re gonna win championships, whether is O or D. And Lakers have those players, so if the system runs the rotation will fit in as well, and then you got yourself a championships team.
    Greetings from Argentina… let’s go Manu, Scola, Delfino and Pablo.

  13. Bambino Basket says:

    Jamison as a PF still can shot the 3pt…..

    Anyway, we will see….

  14. Larry Sportello says:

    I think an NBA level coach is capable of adjusting a system to the players. It’s a bit ridiculous to think he would use exactly the same plays for a completely different team.

  15. blackmambalicious says:

    trade gasol. get some young legs who can shoot the ball from the outside consistently. they they will be fine. d’antoni’s defense before was a suspect because sun’s personnel are not good on the defensive end in particular. howard, kobe, and meta are different animals in terms of defense tho. the lakers have a chance to win it all with d’antoni’s system

  16. MANILA BOY PHILIPPINES says:

    :)

  17. Karlo Garcia says:

    Time will tell that’s for sure.

  18. Karlo Garcia says:

    i believe u cannot win championship(s) if no team plays D. I remember Boston winning the championship because they were the best defensive team in the NBA that season. Unless D’Antoni recognizes that he needs 2 create a defensive mindset in his players then i don’t think they will or would win a championship any time soon.

    • Carl says:

      Why would he NEED to? Kobe’s GOING to play defense. Ron is GOING to play defense. Dwight Howard is GOING to play defense. He’s won Defensive Player of the Year 3 times, and it should have been 4.

  19. JCCIFU says:

    lakers bench its terrible.

  20. NY fan says:

    Mike D’Antoni lets his player play freely because he simply has no good plays for them. D’Antoni has no system because the players are running all around the court to get open to get an open shot. Mike Woodson and Phil Jackson encourage ball movement and how to move so that their superstars get into a dominant position to score.

    • Kobe MVP says:

      LA Lakers is the most dominant NBA team of the decade. Five championships in ten years. There are a lot of reasons why they have accomplished so much and of these reasons is their ability to build a team that win championships. Not just players wise but also staff wise. I think hiring D’Antoni is a well-thought decision by the Lakers management so let’s just see where it would lead them.

      • Marco29 says:

        Yes, but they also make mistakes sometimes. Mike Brown was a mistake and maybe D’antoni will be another one. Only time will tell.

  21. jay says:

    JUST GET A 3 POINT SHOOTER OR TWO! Get Artest out of the starting lineup and bring in a free agent who can knock down the open 3. Many would love to play with this team, including Derek Fisher, Michael Redd, Q Richardson, Peja, etc so just get a shooter or two and the Lakers will be rolling!

    • Chester says:

      i agree theres many free agent wings ready to go michael redd, chris douglas robert, mikael pietrius, fisher, etc i think they should have considered tracy mcgrady as a bench scorer too. i would trade artest for tayshaun prince too.

    • Marco29 says:

      There is alsi Mike Pietrus, a good 3 point shooter AND also a good defender. Exactly what LAL would need.

  22. Charlie mckee says:

    I am done as a Laker Fan. Jim Buss you can’t treat the man responsible for 5 Laker World Championship titles this way.

  23. rex says:

    mike would be able to stretch the floor if he digs deep. he can stretch the floor with these people shooting well, kobe,nash, world peace, blake, jamison, meeks, morris. the long ball would be coming from everywhere and you got pau and dwight to get it if does not go in. kobe and nash wil slash the d easily if their opponents defend the perimeter. mike would get his plays, but it is not enough to win the title. no defense. lakers got to use a potential nba all defensive team with dwight, metta and kobe.

  24. ulysses d.reyes says:

    D ATONI’S STYLE IS BEST FIT FOR THE LAKERS!!THEY WILL BE THE CHAMP FOR THIS CONFERENCE!!!!!GO,GO,LAKERS!!!

    • QuestionMark says:

      To play well in the Playoffs, you have to play good defense, D’Antoni’s teams aren’t known to play defense, the Knicks last season didn’t play well on D, and this season, they are 5-0 thanks to D, also the Suns with Nash and Stoudemire, they were a Run N’ Gun team, but average on defense, yes Lakers have Dwight, Kobe and MWP, but they are good at man to man defense, Nash can’t play good defense because of his age, and once they run into OKC, the Spurs, Nuggets and Clippers, Nash is going to have a tough time defending Westbrook, Lawson, CP3 and Parker. Lakers will obviously make the Playoffs, but I doubt they can win against the top teams in the West, unless they play D. We’ll see how it goes.

  25. jonski22 says:

    Why are people saying that the Lakers are going for an “up-tempo” style of offense with Mike D’Antoni? I think he is smart to know that the personnel he has cannot do that. I’m pretty sure when he got interviewed by Mitch, he got some good idea how to utilize the players that he will have. But, it’s going to be interesting really. A “mini” Showtime perhaps.

  26. philippines says:

    because filipino is a good person

  27. dexter says:

    SPECIALLY THE SYSTEM OF COACH ERICK SPOESLTRA, THE BRILLIANT MIND AND THE WORK ETHIC OF COACH SPO.

  28. dexter says:

    if coach d’antoni can win a title it should had been during the time of steve nash MVP’s performance in phoenix suns..my point is i have doubt in the system of coach d’antoni,..THE MIAMI HEAT WOULD STILL BE THE CHAMP.B’COZ OF LEBRON JAMES MVP PERFORMANCE AND THE WHOLE TEAM’S EFFORT AND SPECIALLY THE SYSTEM OF COACH ERICK SPOELSTRA, THE BRILLIANT MIND AND THE WORK ETHIC OFF COACH SPO.HE SHOULD BE THE COACH OF THE YEAR THIS SEASON..BCOZ TWO SEASONS FOR THE MIAMI HEAT ON THE NBA FINALS THATS AMAZING AND A SPECIAL FOR A COACH LIKE ERICK SPOELSTRA.

    • Eric Spoelstra is benefiting from having the BEST PLAYER in the game period! Lebron deserves the credit for the last two trips to the finals not Pat Riley’s flunkee. He may be a good coach, but until he does something with marginal talent that is open for debate.

    • Carl says:

      WHY? Why do you insist on bringing Miami into a conversation that DOES NOT CONCERN THEM?!

    • HayFever says:

      First – I am a heat fan. Second, Spo is a mediocre coach at best. Miami in the hands of say Phil Jackson would be a 70+ win team every season with the talent they have.

  29. M. james says:

    Marion is wrong. D’Antoni’s “system” is a washout.

    • kenny says:

      Yes I’m pretty sure you know a lot more about basketball and the system than the player who played under it.

  30. kriz says:

    I’m so excited for the HEAT – Lakers match-up. I’m hoping everybody fits on D’Antoni’s system so they’ll have a very great encounter against Heat… The big four of lakers vs the big four of the Heat… it’s fun to see it soon..

  31. Flex Court says:

    Indeed, things will be interesting!

  32. george says:

    Jim Buss is a most stuped front office man in this bussines

  33. dirk45 says:

    D’Antoni will do adjustments. Heck, Nash is barely able to get to the other side of the court within seven seconds. But he has strong material including the best old school PG in game and he will find a way to have his starting five perform excellently.

    But the question that remains: Can he build a rotation – with these players from 6-12?