Kurt —  March 21, 2006

One of the best parts of having this humble little blog has been the smart and witty people who have become regular commenters here, not just adding to discussion but coming up with great insights and observations. Plus a few good questions.

That discussion had me watching the Laker execution of the triangle a little more closely last night. It started with a comment from a Clipper fan with a valid point (it can happen), John R., saying I should track how well the Lakers are running the triangle:

How often they enter it and how often they score within it. If they are still not executing the triangle then there are 2 ways that could go, either this squad is incapable or they could still get much better with proper execution. If they are already running the offense properly, then this is likely the max potential of this Laker team for the remainder of the Kwame Brown era. Unless the triangle is find Kobe 30′ from the basket with 6 on the shot clock, I don’t think the latter is true.

I don’t think there’s much question that the Lakers, if they are going to compete for titles again, need some talent upgrades. And, as they are a triangle team now, they need the talent that fits within that system.

But the question of how well they are running the triangle and the direction of the offense as a whole is a good one to look at. This deep into the season, the Lakers should be more proficient at the offense, but are they? And, are they becoming too reliant on the three ball (which led to an effort to come up with a good name for that disease, and the title for this post).

What follows is my two cents to start off the discussion, but of late family obligations – keeping an eight-month pregnant wife happy and making preparations for another child – have meant I haven’t had the time to watch games using TiVo to rewind and dissect as I would prefer. So, please jump in with your thoughts and observations.

I would say the Laker execution of the triangle tends to be like their commitment on defense – irregular. Even within games. They run the basic format of the offense but if feels like we see fewer back-door plays, cuts inside and the other things that lead to easy baskets in the offense, and instead there is more going through the motions of the offense until they throw the ball to Kobe and expect him to create. It’s a comfortable trap because Kobe will willingly taking on that burden and others are willing to relinquish it too quickly — although Odom has been better of late.

As for the threes, yes I think they take more than I would like, but it hasn’t been worse of late. For the record, in the last 10 games the Lakers are taking 18.1 per game, for the season it’s 18.7.

But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t shooting from the outside more. I don’t have the stats to back it up, but my impression is we are seeing more fadaways and less penetration (and kick-outs), which may be a symptom of Kobe’s tired legs.

All that said, the offense is still eighth in the league in efficiency, the problems are more at the other end of the court. And talent is an issue there as well.