COMMENTARY | The news that the Los Angeles Lakers decided to hire Mike D'Antoni and not Phil Jackson took many by surprise, including the Zen Master himself. But the Lakers are still stuck with a small window to get their season right and adapt to an entirely different coaching philosophy and will have to put it all behind them.
The fans will have to do the same. Their shock will subside eventually, and the Lakers will go to work to try to win with this dynamic in place. D'Antoni is the anti-Mike Brown, and the Lakers figure to get a lot more prolific on offense as a result of his schemes. Here are five reasons to be encouraged about the hiring of Mike Brown and what it means with respect to long-term implications:
1. Showtime will come back
The Lakers have been one of the most boring teams to watch for the last few seasons, and a lot of it is because of the structure of their offense and the age of their players. D'Antoni can't do anything about the age factor, but he can immediately bring excitement to the offense given that his teams have regularly been among the most prolific in the league under his guidance.
In any case, the style of play will be more fun to watch, and it's fitting for Hollywood. The most important question to ask here is whether or not the new, more potent offense will translate into wins.
2. The bench will get more involved
Because of D'Antoni's fast-paced offense, the Lakers will need to rely on their struggling bench to keep their aging starters fresh. Before the Lakers fired Brown, the former head coach was hesitant to go deep into his rotation. D'Antoni will do the opposite, both out of necessity and from past precedent.
The Lakers' bench woes aren't just because of personnel. The second unit is second-to-last in points this season, but even more telling is the fact that through seven games they average just 14.0 minutes per game. Only the Portland Trail Blazers average fewer. Lakers fans have been clamoring since the beginning of the season to see what Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison can do given ample opportunity. Now they will have that chance, especially as spot-up shooters.
3. They'll learn his offense quickly
Steve Nash will make everyone around him better as he reunites with the coach that guided him to two MVP Awards. The Lakers' players are smart, and they'll adjust quickly to the more natural style of play that D'Antoni's system affords. The window for this team to win is short and immediate results are necessary. The sports world will know very soon how effective his system will be with this team.
4. They'll play with a chip on their shoulder
In the Lakers' last two games following Brown's departure, the Lakers looked inspired, fresh and motivated. These were all of the intangible areas that didn't show up on stat sheets that were killing the team under Brown. D'Antoni is known for offense, and the Lakers will constantly be doubted on the defensive end.
The good news is that defense is less about skill and talent and more about desire and intelligence. The Lakers should have plenty of both.
5. The defense might improve
Speaking of defense, it's a major question mark under D'Antoni for good reason. His Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks teams have ranked no higher than the top 20 in the NBA on the defensive end. But it's safe to say that he's never had a stopper like Dwight Howard to anchor the defense, either. No matter what the inefficiencies of Nash as a perimeter defender and the collective age of the players create in terms of challenges, Howard will be the great equalizer.
They weren't getting the job done under Brown, a defensive guru, and ranked 14th in the league in points per game allowed through seven games. It's hard to imagine them getting much worse if Howard stays healthy.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He is also the Editor of Sports Out West.
You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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