Another season of the NBA is upon us and there are a lot of new faces in new places. Perhaps one of the subtler, and recently discovered, obvious moves that should’ve been made a long time ago is James Harden to the point guard position. Yes, it appears Mike D’Antoni is back and so is his high power offense with little to no defense. But, things are different this time, right?
D’Antoni’s offense clicked on all cylinders in Phoenix. His prolific offense was perfectly complimented by his wide array of talent on the Suns rosters of the early 2000’s. Guys like Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Grant Hill, Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson, SHAQ, and oh yeah, a two time MVP Steve Nash who, most people believe has D’Antoni to thank for those awards. Yes, it seemed like he had the perfect combination of talent in his time in Phoenix, he spent five years there and posted a record of 253-136 as head coach. Most seasons resulted in playoff eliminations at the hands of the Lakers or Spurs, then again, everyone not named Dirk Nowitzki knows the feeling so on some level as a Suns, and a fan of the game of basketball, you come to terms with the lack of championships.
After Phoenix D’Antoni heads to the east coast to coach the New York Knicks who just signed free agent Amar’e Stoudemire. Besides Stoudemire the signing ultimately made zero sense. To think D’Antoni’s success in Phoenix could be imitated in New York, at the time was peculiar, now it’s downright offensive to think Raymond Felton could hold down an offense mastered by Steve Nash. Needless to say the Knicks and D’Antoni didn’t pan out, the Knicks were back in the playoffs, but when Melo came and half of the Knicks roster shipped off to Denver things went from bad to worse. The Knicks were 121 and 167 during the “D’Antoni era.”
Coach D’Antoni’s next stop is most likely one of, if not the most un fitting matches as far as teams and coaches go that I have ever seen in my time watching basketball. Take an aging team of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, and Steve Nash, pair them with a young and promising Dwight Howard-who people are now comparing to Wilt Chamberlain and Shaq- and what do you get? A total disaster, you get a total disaster. To think an old veteran team can be on the move like a Mike D’Antoni offense is supposed to be is completely unjustified. The D’Antoni offense also known as seven seconds or less, is based on the mind set of, “we are going to come down on offense and fire up as many shots as we can during the course of a game, within the first seven seconds of the shot clock, the more shots, the more points we score.” Again, a nightmare of a game plan for a veteran team on the back end of its cores career. Not to mention Steve Nash basically stole nearly $30 million from the Lakers, Kobe began to break down, and Dwight couldn’t handle the pressure. That experiment was short lived.
Ironically enough, Dwight goes to Houston, leaves, then who else but Mike D’Antoni assumes the role as head coach of a Houston Rockets team who is not too far removed from a Western Conference Finals appearance, small world huh?
James Harden has had his eyes on an MVP award since he parted ways with Oklahoma City. Harden spoke openly how he felt he should have won the award over Stephen Curry last season, “I am the best player in the league. I believe that. I thought I was last year, too. I know I was the MVP”, some very bold words. That was coming into last season, even more so this year he is doing a little less talking and a whole lot more scoring, dishing, and rebounding.