The Lakers scored 122 points against the Denver Nuggets last Friday. They took 33 three-point shots, made 17 and 18 of the attempts came from two bench players – Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks.
Welcome to the world of Mike D'Antoni and Seven Seconds or Less… And that's without its Maestro Steve Nash in uniform.
D'Antoni's is an equal opportunity offense. If you are in the game, you are free to jack up a three-point shot if you think you're open. If he doesn’t like you shooting three-point shots or you struggle in his system, he doesn't play you much. If you don’t believe me, go ask Jordan Hill. Pretty soon All-Star Pau Gasol will start to feel neglected. That’s when conversations will ramp up about trading him for a perimeter power forward who doesn’t mind staying out of Dwight Howard’s way on the basketball court.
Gasol is arguably the most versatile big man in the league, but he is fragile offensively and this system can’t afford indecision and low confidence. The Spanish big man deserves more touches, but this system requires him to be a support player and not a focal point. This system forces him to concentrate on 15-foot jump shots, defense, rebounding, passing and an occasional post-up opportunity.
Most importantly, he has to be content watching four small players surrounding Dwight Howard in crunch time from the bench. Jamison and Meeks will be among those players and Metta World Peace better go pump some iron because he will be guarding a lot of power forwards the rest of this season.
This is Mike D'Antoni at his best and one thing I can assure Gasol is that D'Antoni will not deviate from the plan no matter how highly everybody else thinks about the Spaniard.
We saw what he likes and that is unleashing Jamison for 33 minutes and 33 points. He is versatile and stretches the defense away from Howard. Meeks took nine shots and eight of them were from beyond the arc. He will flourish just like every solid shooter who has played with Steve Nash and D'Antoni at the helm.
The Lakers' coach needs World Peace because he can guard any position and can set up behind the three-point line. So I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Gasol will more than likely suffer and become the odd man out. The proof is clear as day: His minutes per game have diminished over the last five games and his field-goal attempts and shooting percentage are in a downturn.
Gasol can’t take it personal. It's just that there is a better big man next to him by the name of Dwight Howard.
The problem for the Lakers is Gasol has a contract that’s not easy to trade… So the soap opera in Lakers Land will continue.