There is a perception around the NBA that with Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni running the Nets offense, Brooklyn will be run-and-gun, pick-and-roll, maybe even more crazed than the Suns’ “Seven Seconds or Less.” Brian Lewis quipped it might even be “SIX Seconds or Less!”
Don’t be so sure, Alex Schiffer writes Tuesday after interviewing people close to D’Antoni and Amar’e Stoudemire ... and parsing Nash’s statements. Basically, expect the offense to be reflective of the personnel. High tempo? Sure. A replication of “Seven Seconds or Less?” Don’t be so sure.
For one thing, Nash himself made comments that suggested it would be different. As Schiffer notes, in his Town Hall a month ago, the Nets new head coach laid it out in a straightforward manner.
“People talk about the Phoenix teams I played on and this sort of revolutionary tone of how it impacted the game, but the truth be told, Mike D’Antoni’s brilliance in much of that was he allowed it to evolve instead of getting in the way,” Nash said. “I feel like a lot of coaches feel the need to design every aspect of something, and I feel you leave too much on the table that can be found through the personalities, the connectivity, the dynamic on the floor and in the room.”
Nash even embraced his superstars’ controversial comments about coaching in Brooklyn being “collaborative.”
“I’d much rather come in with principles, with ideas that allow our players to collaborate with us and allow their personalities and the dynamic between them and the chemistry to have a role in how it evolves,” he said.
Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s older brother and sometime assistant, gave Schiffer his take on what the offense might look like, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ... and with James Harden. He believes his brother and Nash can adapt ... and why not? The Nets roster is, in a word, stacked.
“First off, they’d like to probably have fast tempo where the ball moves a bit more and they have a little more speed. I’m sure that’s something they’ll explore first. They’re going to look for the best avenues to have the best team.”
And if they get Harden?
“Steve needed pace to get him open whereas Harden doesn’t need it,” Dan D’Antoni said. “He’s strong and can hold the ball right there and beat you. They’re going to have to figure all of that out. What are they going to do with KD? What are they going to do with Kyrie? It’s about how they all fit in.”
Older brother pointed out that younger brother adapted when he had Carmelo Anthony in New York and James Harden in Houston. Not only was D’Antoni a disruptive force in the early 2000’s with “Seven Seconds or Less,” he also changed the game dramatically in Houston with the 3-point revolution, Schiffer notes.
For example, Anthony didn’t need picks or screens D’Antoni devised in Phoenix to get open. to beat opponents in isolation. Another one of D’Antoni’s charges in Phoenix, Leandro Barbosa, emphasized adaptation and added the Nets new assistant uses the unconventional freely.
“Mike is one of the best coaches that I ever played for,” the player known as “the Flash” told Schiffer. “He’s also one of the best from an offensive standpoint. He knows a lot of plays, he knows a lot of tricks, I think he’s going to be awesome for Kyrie (Irving) and (Kevin) Durant.”
Dan D’Antoni said his brother, now 69, considered retirement but Nash lured him back in. And Dan told Schiffer, there was a “pay it back a bit,” aspect to his decision. Nash helped him win 65 percent of his games in Phoenix. Time to help Steve out in his first job.
Until the Nets step on the court on December 22, there’ll be speculation about just what the offense will look like (and if the Nets make a move to get Harden, that’ll change too.) Our own Matt Brooks listened carefully to Landry Shamet’s description of the Nets-centric workouts in Los Angeles and believes he found some “breadcrumbs.”
“Kyrie Irving is a guy who likes to push the pace; I think we’re going to play fast, with lots of space and fluidity.”
Landry continued, mentioning that he had spent the offseason working out with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the former Mamba Academy.
“They look great. KD looks great. Kyrie looks great... from the outside looking in, they look really good.” And in those workouts, “(Irving and Durant) wanted to move and set screens.”
Set screens, you say? Hm. That sounds tantalizing.
We shall see soon enough. The first preseason games start on December 11 which is 17 days from now. In the meantime, know this: the offense will be innovative, collaborative and as Dan D’Antoni told Schiffer “fun.”
- Why Mike D’Antoni pushed off retirement and joined Steve Nash’s Nets staff - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York