The hiring of Mike D’Antoni as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers may be a shock to Phil Jackson and some of his Zen followers. But, with the Lakers’ surplus of firepower averaging only 98.6 points per game, D’Antoni is the perfect fit.
D’Antoni is a master of putting the ball through the basket. He injected the Phoenix Suns with the most potent scoring attack of the 2000's and breathed new life into the New York Knicks with his up-tempo offense during his four years in the Big Apple.
Those two teams became solid over bets while D’Antoni prowled the sidelines and the Lakers – at 4-3 over/under – could undergo a similar transformation this season.
“I think we've seen a lot more potential in the Lakers offense as opposed to their defense,” says Covers Expert Sean Murphy. “They've started to hit their stride lately, putting up over 100 points in three of their last four games, and I certainly think we'll see progression of that with D'Antoni taking over.”
In his time in Phoenix, D’Antoni led the Suns to a 207-177-2 over/under mark, playing above the total in almost 54 percent of their games. Phoenix averaged 106.6 points per game during that span and was the top-ranked offense in the league for three straight seasons.
In New York, D’Antoni took over a Knicks team that averaged just 96.9 points per game (26th) the previous year and turned them into the fourth-best scoring squad in the league (105.2 ppg) after just one season.
He posted a 120-125-1 over/under record in his first three campaigns in New York before going 16-26-0 over/under and resigning last March. In his four seasons with the Knicks, the team averaged 102.9 points and ranked among the top 10 in offense in all but last season.
While those teams piled on the points, their defenses fell by the wayside. Murphy notes the Lakers defense is much stronger than that of Phoenix or New York under D’Antoni, with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace all among the elite defenders in the NBA.
“We're not going to see a true run-and-gun style in L.A., at least not in my opinion,” says Murphy. “While there might be some value in the over right now, I think that will turn in the coming weeks with plenty of totals set north of 200.”
D’Antoni is reunited with his floor general from his days in the desert, Steve Nash, who won two NBA MVP awards while orchestrating D’Antoni’s offense with the Suns. According to the Los Angeles Times, Phoenix ran an average of 70 pick-and-rolls per game under D’Antoni while the average team runs 30 to 40 of those sets an outing. It’s only a matter of time before the Lakers do away with former coach Mike Brown’s hybrid Princeton offense and buy into D’Antoni’s system.
D’Antoni, who is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, will not be on the sidelines versus the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday and isn’t expected to start head coaching duties until Sunday. Los Angeles is in the midst of a six-game home stand and plays the Suns Friday before welcoming Houston Sunday.
The total for Tuesday’s game versus San Antonio is set at 194.5 points.