Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Defending Pau Gasol and why the D'Antoni System will never work. (+ Notes from the Orlando Magic game)

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Orlando Magic 113 - Los Angeles Lakers 103

The Good

Magic: They exacted revenge on their former All Star teammate that put them through hell for the entire summer. The Magic is a well coached team that works hard to make up for their lack of talent. Jacque Vaughn knows how to use his arsenal of unlimited (streaky) mid range shooters that is at his disposal. His team executes and constantly moves with or without the ball.

On defense, they actually play with effort and can get a stop, unlike their opponent.

Lakers: There is not much to be said, except let's just wait for Steve Nash to come back.

The Bad

Magic: They beat a far superior team at home, the only thing that sucked was that they put us through a whole hour of Hack-A-Dwight. Thank God, for the fast forward button on League Pass.
Lakers: Enough with the Pau Gasol bashing, especially from the Laker fans. You guys are already the most spoiled basketball fan base in the NBA. How can you disrespect a guy that won you two consecutive championships, when he is just trying to find his way in a new system. It is still too early in the season to give up on Pau Gasol. He is way too good to trade away and there no determining his impact after Steve Nash's return.

Imagine yourself as Pau for a second. After you worked hard to bring two trophies to Los Angeles, a slight dip in numbers places you on the trading block. He has been mentioned in trade rumors so many times, you wonder how he managed to stay focused. I applaud him and his ability to cope with the situation. He played the past 2 seasons not knowing where he would end up and remained efficient, it is not impossible to believe he is dealing with trust issues.

Yes, I know he can sometimes be a defensive liability, and soft in the post, but I also know that he is only 32 years old, dealing with knee tendinitis and still incredibly talented. The Lakers have to show that they trust him. Which can start by getting him more involved. The offense must go through Pau and Kobe. Give the ball to Gasol in the post, make the stationary Lakers cut and he will get you a good shot or make a nice post move for an easy finish. Kobe has been a willing passer this season and is shooting out of his mind. Averaging career highs in both field percentage and three point shooting. He alone, can make his teammates better.

Dwight Howard came to the Lakers to do two things, defend and rebound. Stop trying to run the offense through him. He is not a good passer, his post moves are limited and his back is not healthy. I went through this game twice, and there was only one possession where he actually used his body to get himself close for the dunk. The rest of them, he bumped his defender to get the basketball and will spin into free space for a flat hook. Make your opponent eat your shoulders, and jump over them. As for the defense? Well, the Magic scored 31 points in the last 6 minutes of the 4th quarter, which pretty much summed up this end of the game.

With all that said I am going to contrast all the previous points I made, because the fact is that Mike D'Antoni's system will not work with this team. Despite the believe Steve Nash will make everything work. They don't have the youth to run, the floor stretching bigs or enough shooters (Pringles played Jodie Meek for 9 minutes, I guess going 7 for 8 from the three point lime against Denver doesn't earn any playing time. Jordan Hill didn't get to play too). Having two centers and one with a inconsistent jumper goes against everything his system stands for. There is absolutely no space for Nash to do his pick and roll. And the shooters lined up outside aren't particularly good either. Add on the defense he sacrifices, they might not even be able to get stops to for an early shot.

There is no doubt Pringles will get the boot and the Lakers will regret not giving into Phil Jackson's demands.

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