Many Laker fans were appalled by the decision to hire head coach Mike D’Antoni last season. After walking into a difficult task of coaching a banged up team with fan base who were hoping for the return of Phil Jackson, he led the Lakers into the postseason where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
D’Antoni comes into this season with a revamped roster and new coaching staff. The question now becomes this: is there pressure on Mike D’Antoni to lead this team?
D’Antoni comes into the upcoming season under the conditions of a full NBA season with a full training camp and a coaching staff of his own to help him implement his system with the partly new roster which had a makeover during the summer.
Fans and players alike were unhappy with some of the coaching decisions that were made last season, and D’Antoni’s rotation choices were routinely questioned over the course of the year. The supporting cast on the Lakers’ bench were disappointing as they averaged 25.8 points per game which placed the second unit at 28th in the Association.
D’Antoni was most under fire when he decided to bench two-time champion Pau Gasol in order to start the emerging Earl Clark. The head coach also received criticism after the injury to Kobe Bryant which many believed was due to D’Antoni’s decision to play him heavy minutes over the course of the season.
Another level of concern for D’Antoni is on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the Lakers ranked 22nd in opponents points scored with 101 points per game. With the hiring of Kurt Rambis and Johnny Davis, Los Angeles will look to improve their defensive efforts as a team.
In order to achieve success this season, it is vital that the Lakers’ main core players stay healthy for the majority of the year. With that being said, despite the challenges placed in front of him, D’Antoni will likely be feeling pressure from the fans and front office to win games and once again lead the purple and gold into playoffs.
This is an article by Eugene Jones. You can follow him on Twitter: @Hugo_Jones1