Identity thief

Mike D'Antoni needs to pay more attention to the numbers

Originally Published: March 6, 2013
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine
Peter Keating - The NumbersIllustration by Eric FrommeltIf the Lakers miss the playoffs, the blame won't lie with clashing egos or injuries.

DESPITE A POST-ALL-STAR BREAK warm streak that has many fans and talking heads chirping about a playoff run, the Lakers are the biggest underachievers in all of sports. Certainly there are statistical reasons the team's fortunes are likely to improve -- the Lakers were unlucky in the first half, when they outscored opponents yet lost more than they won, and their second-half schedule is considerably easier. Still, LA's fundamental chemistry remains poor. Personality clashes aren't solely responsible for this, and neither are injuries. The numbers scream that the Lakers are less than the sum of their parts because of how Mike D'Antoni builds lineups.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.