Throughout his career, Mike D'Antoni has become known primarily for his offensive philosophy and his unwillingness to compromise on his vision. However, in order for the Los Angeles Lakers to thrive, he's going to have to alter his philosophy to reflect some of his more successful peers.
The two coaches Mike D'Antoni has to channel in order to make the best of his roster are Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich.
In terms of pure basketball, Popovich is an excellent template for Mike D'Antoni to mold his system after.
Popovich has always been a coach who has been in-tune with the strengths and weaknesses of his roster.
For example, in Tim Duncan's prime, Popovich utilized a low-post oriented offense that allowed the offense to run through Duncan almost every possession.
As Duncan started to decline slowly, he handed the reins to Tony Parker and allowed him to utilize and drive-and-kick to take advantage of the myriad of shooters the San Antonio Spurs had on their roster.
As Duncan aged gracefully into more of a supportive role, Popovich sped up the pace and emphasized the transition game to save Duncan from having to struggle against younger and stronger power forwards in a half-court oriented offense.
Popovich's ability to adjust the Spurs' system based on his roster has allowed San Antonio to stay relevant throughout all of these years.
D'Antoni needs to adapt a similar mindset when adjusting his system to fit his roster. Utilizing a run-and-gun style on a team with aging veterans and injury-stricken superstars may not be the best way to maximize the talent on the roster.
In terms of dealing with the personalities on his roster, D'Antoni has to either channel Popovich or take a page out of Jackson's book.
Either D'Antoni has to treat every player on the team equally and hold everybody accountable like Popovich or he has to be in-tune with the personalities on his team and deal with them in different ways the way the Zen Master used to.
Jackson has won six championships dealing with a myriad of difficult personalities in Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and of course, Michael Jordan.
D'Antoni's favoritism towards Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant along with his constant chirping against Pau Gasol has clearly shown that he isn't the greatest manager of personalities.
In order for D'Antoni to right this ship before the end of the season, he has to adjust. Although it may be too late in the season for D'Antoni to make any major adjustments to his system, perhaps properly managing the egos on the team can lead to some better basketball for the Lakers.
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