With Mike D’Antoni’s first trip with the New York Knicks to
One of the hallmarks of D’Antoni’s offense is its ability to make quality contributors out of previously disappointing or unheralded players, and to elevate quality players to an All-Star level. It was in D’Antoni’s system that Steve Nash made the leap from “All-Star point guard” to “superstar” and 2-time MVP. Nash was a very good player to begin with, but it’s highly unlikely that any other situation in the NBA would have landed him the hardware that his seasons with D’Antoni did. However, there is a host of other players, some very talented, others merely serviceable, that have reached the high-water marks of their respective NBA careers in Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Of all the Suns’ recent standouts, Shawn Marion is unmistakably the poster child for the D’Antoni Effect. In
But Shawn Marion is not alone…
Following a pair of solid seasons with the Utah Jazz, his third team in five years, Raja Bell joined the Suns in 2005-06, and quickly became Steve Nash’s favorite perimeter target on the break. A 40%+ 3-point shooter, D’Antoni’s system was tailor-made for Bell who, in his 3 full seasons in Phoenix, took more than 50% of his field goal attempts (52.5%; 1,381 of 2,633) from behind the 3-point line; this figure had never previously exceeded 24.1%. In 2005-06,
Boris Diaw was initially in the running for D’Antoni Effect Poster Child, but was omitted for this reason- ever since he received a $9 million per year contract in 2006, Diaw’s has been terribly inconsistent and often seems unmotivated. Diaw was also outspoken in his support for D’Antoni and his system, and I don’t question that Diaw genuinely enjoyed playing for Mike D’Antoni, but it’s unclear how much of Boris Diaw’s success is a product of the D’Antoni Effect, and how much can be attributed to his being a talented player who plays to get paid and will always be at his best in “contract years”, regardless of what system he’s in.
Tim Thomas is one of the most vivid examples of the D’Antoni Effect. A talented, career underachiever, Thomas started the 2005-06 season with the Chicago Bulls, but played just three early-season games before being banished for being a distraction to the team, and was ultimately waived before being pulled off the NBA scrap heap by D’Antoni and the Suns. In his
Before being traded to the Suns in 2005, James Jones’ career consisted of an unremarkable 81-game stretch with the Indiana Pacers, where he averaged just under 5 points. In two seasons under D’Antoni, Jones averaged 8.7 ppg, including a career-high 9.3 ppg in 2005-06, and made a respectable 38.2% of his 3-point attempts. Like Raja Bell, Jones’ game is predicated on lots of 3-point attempts (3’s have accounting for at least 49% of his field goal attempts in each of the past 4 seasons), making
In signing with the New York Knicks, D’Antoni stepped into what was arguably the best situation in the NBA- the debacle that was Isiah Thomas lowered the expectations of Knicks’ fans to lows seldom seen in NBA history, so D’Antoni has nowhere to go but up. Though he may have left