Mike D'Antoni hiring good for Nash, Kobe

November, 12, 2012
The consensus by nearly everyone of note -- besides the people who would actually end up making the decision -- was that the Los Angeles Lakers would bring back Phil Jackson to replace the fired Mike Brown as their head coach. That's why Jackson wasn't the only person who was, as ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne wrote, "stunned" that they instead decided to hire former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni late Sunday evening.

Jackson has won 11 NBA titles as a coach, and D'Antoni, well, he has helped produce some of the top performers in fantasy hoops history. While Lakers fans may question the team's decision, we here in fantasyland just have to roll with the punches and appreciate D'Antoni and his stat-happy system.

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Steve Nash
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireSteve Nash has been out since Oct. 31 because of a leg injury.

D'Antoni helped create the magic of Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw in Phoenix, and Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony in New York. Of course, it's not like Jackson didn't create plenty of fantasy studs himself with his triangle offense. Nonetheless, things will be different with D'Antoni's pick-and-roll style.

The biggest beneficiary statistically should be Nash. Instead of being one small piece of the triangle, Nash will be the primary facilitator with his usual ball-hogging style of running the point. He should be able to maintain higher assist totals under D'Antoni than he would have under Jackson. Both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are capable of succeeding in pick-and-roll offenses, so they should benefit, too.

As for Kobe Bryant, he obviously would have been more comfortable in the only system he's really ever known as a pro, but he should fit in just fine on the wing in D'Antoni's system. One big difference should be more wide-open 3-point shots. Only twice in Bryant's career has he averaged at least 2.0 3s per game, and those came the two seasons right after Shaquille O'Neal left L.A. You might be surprised to know that he has shot only 33.7 percent from beyond the arc during his career, but it wouldn't be surprising if Bryant surpasses that 2.0 3s per game mark under D'Antoni's direction this season.

Looking Back

• The Orlando Magic inserted J.J. Redick into their starting lineup Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets (bumping Josh McRoberts to the bench) in an attempt to boost their scoring. Technically, they did that -- the Magic scored six more points than they did when they lost to the Nets on Friday -- but they lost again. Redick struggled to shoot in both games (he shot a combined 5-for-16 from the field, 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, over the two games), but he dished out a season-high nine dimes Sunday. Redick is a better fit coming off the bench against opponents' second units, but he might stick as a starter out of necessity due to the Magic's thin roster.

Kris Humphries had a monster double-double Sunday, finishing with 14 points and 21 boards. He benefited from the continued absence of Gerald Wallace, the inability of Brook Lopez to rebound and facing a weak Magic frontcourt. He's obviously capable of big rebounding numbers, but likely not against tougher frontcourts, especially once Wallace returns, which could be as soon as Tuesday.

Looking Ahead

DeMarcus Cousins didn't like what San Antonio Spurs announcer (and former Spurs player) Sean Elliott said about him during Friday's broadcast. When he heard about it after the game, Cousins hunted down Elliott and gave him an earful. On Sunday, the NBA levied a two-game suspension on Cousins as a result. He served the first one Sunday -- Jason Thompson started and did well, with 15 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks -- and will serve his second Tuesday. The trouble is the Sacramento Kings play just three games this week, so now Cousins will contribute just two games during that stretch. Those of you setting weekly lineups today might want to sit him.

• Per Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com, an MRI revealed that Kirk Hinrich has a strained hip and is day to day. He will not play Monday, which means that Nate Robinson will start against his old team, the Boston Celtics, and be backed up by rookie Marquis Teague.

Chase Budinger is slated to undergo surgery soon to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. A timetable hasn't been announced for his return, but he should be out long enough that fantasy teams can drop him. If Brandon Roy and J.J. Barea can return from their injuries, they should get a boost in touches. In fact, the Minnesota Timberwolves are so banged up right now that rookie Alexey Shved will be worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues.

Kyle Lowry (ankle) didn't practice Sunday, and his status for Monday's game and the remainder of the week remains uncertain. You'll want to check for updates before inserting him into your lineups.

• Looking down the road a bit, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Woolfson tweeted last night that Kevin Love is not expected to return until early December. It appears that any hope of him being back in the mix by Thanksgiving has been dashed. Nonetheless, his upside is so high that he remains an excellent buy-low candidate if you can pry him away at a slightly reduced rate from the owner who drafted him.

Fastbreak Player of the Night

Those of you setting weekly lineups, regardless of the format, will want to target players from the Celtics, who play five games in seven days. On the other hand, you'll want to sit guys from the Los Angeles Clippers, who play just twice.

If you're looking for a studly Fastbreak play for Tuesday evening, consider using Andrea Bargnani at center. Sure, Tim Duncan would be the more tempting choice, but he's battling the Lakers, not the best matchup for a big man. Bargs, on the other hand, should give the Indiana Pacers fits as he floats around the perimeter dropping shots on them. In his past two games, Bargnani posted 28 Fastbreak points against the Dallas Mavericks and 24 versus the Philadelphia 76ers. Touching that 30-point mark is a legit possibility versus the Pacers on Tuesday.



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