Portland Trail Blazers: Pros and cons of hiring Mike D’Antoni

Mike D'Antoni, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Mike D'Antoni, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Mike D'Antoni, Houston Rockets
Mike D’Antoni, Houston Rockets (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The cons of the Portland Trail Blazers hiring Mike D’Antoni

Potential offensive bogs:

Mike D’Antoni may have experienced some déjà vu if he watched film of how the Blazers offense snagged against the Nuggets in round one.

There could have been some PTSD triggered for him watching Portland clank 3-pointer after 3-pointer, while the Nuggets were mounting runs to expand their lead.

It’ll be a long time before fans forget when his Rockets missed 27 straight triples in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

Even though he’s known as an offensive genius, D’Antoni isn’t exactly a creative play caller. His Suns and Rockets teams rarely ran sets; they instead relied heavily on the brilliance of Hall of Famers Nash, CP3, and Harden to create offense.

While Damian Lillard is certainly in the class of those players as an offensive creator, D’Antoni is going to have to find a solution for when the pace-and-space just isn’t rolling on its own.

While CP3’s injury certainly played a part in why that series went south, the Rockets had two separate chances to put away the Warriors. If D’Antoni had a more creative solution to his team’s offensive struggles, perhaps we’d be calling him a championship coach today.

Picking up the pace will certainly lead to more open looks for Portland, but the new coach has to be prepared for when the offense hits a speed bump. To get the Blazers over the hump, D’Antoni will have to bring a lot more to the table on offense than “give the ball to Dame.”

Lack of bench success:

As offensively potent as his teams have been, that success has not often extended to D’Antoni’s bench units.

Here’s where each of his teams finished in bench scoring in the full seasons he coached:

  • PHX 2004-2005: 30th
  • PHX 2005-2006: 8th
  • PHX 2006-2007: 15th
  • PHX 2007-2008: 19th
  • NYK 2008-2009: 4th
  • NYK 2009-2010: 7th
  • NYK 2010-2011: 25th
  • LAL 2012-2013: 28th
  • LAL 2013-2014: 2nd
  • HOU 2016-2017: 5th
  • HOU 2017-2018: 25th
  • HOU 2018-2019: 30th
  • HOU 2019-2020: 28th

Aside from the 2005-2006 season, the trend seems to be that when D’Antoni is expected to lead a contending team, his bench flounders.

Last season, the Blazers finished 20th in bench scoring even with Melo, Anfernee Simons, and Enes Kanter spearheading the reserve unit.

The hope is that D’Antoni’s reunion with Melo will spark a strong offensive bench performance for the Blazers. From the evidence he’s presented though, there’s no reason to believe that Portland’s bench will improve much under D’Antoni’s guidance.

It’s clear from his resume that the Blazers can expect another strong season with D’Antoni at the wheel, perhaps even a top-four seed finish. But is it enough of an upgrade to finally get the Blazers back to the Finals? He’s a safe pick for the position, but I’m not exactly sold on the prospect of him showing a massive improvement in his 17th season as a head coach.

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