D'Antoni and Defense in Context
I saw Stephen A. Smith all over ESPN this morning, in full high-dudgeon mode, bloviating himself to the point of exhaustion about how D'Antoni will fail because D'Antoni doesn't believe in defense.
As ammunition for this idiocy Smith insisted that D'Antoni's teams were the WORST defensive teams year in and year out, but each time he made the point he only referenced points per game, not points per possession. To try to limit criticism about his approach he admitted that a faster pace equals more points per game, but he didn't follow up and also admit that by more reasonable metrics D'Antoni's teams were average on defense, not awful.
So: we now know that Stephen A. Smith has picked sides in the Lakers' coaching fight, and that he's shilling for the anti-front-office crowd. Fine.
But there's another problem with Stephen A. Smith's criticism about how defense wins championships. It applies equally to the crap performance that Mike Brown was getting out of the Lakers during the first five games. To see what I mean, consider the following stats during Brown's five coached games, and the three games after he was fired:
PF: 486 97.2/g
PA: 494 98.8/g
30-point quarters allowed by LA: 5 (avergage 1 per game)
25-point quarters allowed by LA: 11 (average 2.2 per game)
PF: 286 95.3/g
PA: 251 83.6/g
30-point quarters allowed by LA: 0 (average 0 per game)
25-point quarters allowed by LA: 1 (average .33 per game)
Note specifically the points allowed during Brown's games and after Brown was fired. Yes, the sample sizes are small, but without genius defensive coach Mike Brown on the team the Lakers gave up 15 FEWER points per game than when genius defensive coach Mike Brown was running things.
Too, the Lakers had a negative point differential under Brown. After Brown was fired -- in large part because his defense was awful -- the Lakers point differential grew to better than 11 a game, and that includes the game against the Spurs that was a virtual tie.
So when you consider D'Antoni's defense going forward, I hope you'll do so not in absolute terms, like the idiot Stephen A. Smith, but in context. If we're scoring more than the other team that's good. And if our differential is greater than Brown's that's also good, no matter how many points we're giving up.