One of the many reasons why the Lakers got rid of former head coach Mike D’Antoni is his European style of play does not win NBA Championships. Offensively, the European style of play is very entertaining and Mike D’Antoni has put together some very fun teams to watch throughout the years. This includes the Suns, Lakers and now the Rockets, with that being said, Mike has never won a Championship, why? Both his offensive and defensive schemes do not work, in the playoffs. A lot of basketball scholars will declare that the game of basketball has changed, that the European style of play has taken over and in many ways it has. Examples include the Euro-step and a more 3 point focused offense, to a smaller faster team.
However, in the NBA Playoffs all of that European style goes out the window into the trashcan.
Mike D’Antonis’ entire career as a coach is proof that the European style of play will not win Championships, it will get you to the playoffs though and there is something to be said for that. But as far as winning NBA Championships, the small ball, Euro-style will never win in the grueling NBA playoffs. Going even a step further than just saying that the European style will never win a Championship but even having a guard focused offense will not work. That is of course unless you have a once in a lifetime, once in a generation guard who Is head and shoulders more talented than everyone on the court for example, Michael Jordan, a Kobe Bryant, a Steph Curry. Think of those old Bulls, Lakers, and Warriors teams. What did those teams have that the Houston Rockets do not? They already have two of the best guards in the world on their roster with James Harden and Russell Westbrook so, what are they missing?
Traditional big men who know their niche, their role, who historically, owners have always built their teams around on defense to disrupt the team on offense.
When I think of Michael Jordan and the Bull’s who do I think of on defense, the unsung heroes who really helped Jordan win the battle in the paint? Luc Longley, Bill Cartwright, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, the traditional big men in the paint, who kept the opposing team’s guards out of the paint. Offensive styles come and go but smash mouth defense will always win. When you think of Kobe and the Lakers, who comes to mind, who helped win on defense in the paint? Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Horry, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest. Even most recently with the Warriors dynasty, as great as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shot the ball, they do not win those Championships without the traditional big men in the paint, disrupting on defense and getting rebounds. For the Warriors those players were Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, and Andre Iiguodala. Every winning Championship team has to have niche players, who know their roles and stay in their roles. Players that stay in their lane and do not deviate from their positions skill set.
When you watch the Rockets, each time down the court you will see James Harden guarding a different player, one time he is up top guarding a guard and the next time he is down in the paint trying to guard LeBron or Anthony Davis. That is not going to work, ever. What is Mike D’Antoni thinking? Yes, Anthony Davis is weak compared to a traditional center but even Shaq could not guard AD up top by the three point line. So what chance does 6’5 PJ Tucker have to consistently stop LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a 7 game playoff series? None.
Meanwhile, Houston has a 7’1 center on the bench in Tyson Chandler who was the reason the Dallas Mavericks won their Championship with Dirk. Unless he is hopping on one leg hurt, why is D’Antoni not playing him? LeBron is killing the Rockets little leprechauns trying to guard him, Chandler at least would be a traditional big man in the paint, a defensive presence to disrupt LeBron and Davis.
When the Rockets won game one everyone thought Mike D’Antoni was a genius, now not so much.