In a league of copycats, Lakers and Magic will be hard to duplicate
Time was, someone called you a copycat, you'd be fixin' to meet them after school with an Opie Taylor knuckle sandwich. In the NBA, though, calling someone -- hey, calling
Big deal. Yawn. It's the way of their world. If it isn't coaches embracing the grinding, half-court defenses that the late
You know you're into copycat territory when you hear coaches or team execs talk about the need on their rosters for a "-type," as in
Eight coaches fired during the 2008-09 season: Trend? Nah, copycat. Sometimes teams simply ape excess -- seven of those franchises missed the playoffs anyway -- although the goal usually is to mimic success.
"Most teams try to match the elite teams," Magic guard
Not all. Someone has to lead, and typically, in the months between the Finals and the preseason, that task falls to the NBA champions, occasionally the runners-up. It makes sense: The other 28 teams want to get where, in this case, the Lakers and the Magic have gotten. To do so, they'll have to figure out a way to eliminate those two teams, the reigning bar-setters, along with any other aspirants. And that's where the "if you can't beat them, join them" thinking comes in.
Teams in the Eastern Conference spent the better part of this decade seeking counters to the Pistons' mix of defense, depth and shooting. In the West, the Spurs were the gold standard, while Phoenix's up-tempo style was admired but not imitated because the Suns won no rings or even reached the Finals. Now the Magic and the Lakers are the teams that others might emulate (that's another kind synonym for copy), or at least try to meet strength-for-strength.
"With Orlando, I'd probably say no to that for a couple reasons," an assistant coach from an East contender said. "That team is built uniquely, surrounding a great post-up guy, an inside force, with all those three-point shooters. It's not how some coaches are willing to play, and to find that guy is really difficult. Obviously, you'd like to have [
Or, as Orlando general manager
Still, the Cavaliers saw what happened in their big men's inability to cope with Howard's strength and quickness.
Finding an array of reliable outside shooters to match Orlando's, or a 6-foot-10 forward with the ball skills of
For teams in the West, finding a
Copycatting the Lakers during their three-peat of 2000-02 was impossible, given the one-and-only
"They did try it in Dallas when [longtime Jackson assistant]
"The triangle involves moving the ball from one side of the floor to the other and requires the right spacing, so you can get into a shot-clock problem. Teams that have tried to run it, as they're learning, you see them moving the ball and now there's five or six seconds left on the shot clock. It helps at that point if you have Michael or Kobe you can give the ball to and just let them go."
Then there's this: The Lakers could be hard to imitate because they might be a moving target. If center