The Lakers and Trendy NBA Offense

Kurt —  November 6, 2008

Starting last season, Phil Jackson loosened the reins some on the triangle offense — not only was the team encouraged to fast break more, but within the first seven seconds of the clock they are allowed to freelance before setting up the offense. Maybe the biggest beneficiaries of this have been Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, who run down and get deep early post position and some easy baskets.

But the Lakers are not alone in this, a lot of coaches are promoting some freelancing, and a great story in the NY Times yesterday talked about the level of scouting in the NBA, which led Kevin over at TrueHoop to add on more:

Jonathan Abrams deftly explains something I’ve heard a lot in recent weeks: “…the prevalence of video, the proliferation of advance scouts roaming from city to city and the encyclopedic memories of most coaches have dramatically reduced the actual surprise of what teams see from the other side. Nearly ever wrinkle in the game is immediately seen and studied, rewound and rehearsed – from the triangle to the Princeton offense.” This is one of the primary reasons you’re seeing teams run more early offense — it prevents the defense from leveraging that expertise.

I’ll add that one of the advantages of the “read and react” triangle offense is that you do not have to call out plays.

• The Lakers missed a lot of shots last night (both teams shot an identical 43.5% eFG%) but the difference in the game is the Lakers grabbed 31.9% of their misses and got to the free throw line 30 more times (remember that the 22-0 run in the fourth started with free throws from Farmar and Kobe). Somewhere I can hear John R saying “see, the Lakers get all the calls.” But in the NBA, the team that gets the calls is the team that is the aggressor, that gets the ball inside and goes to the rim. The Lakers did that last night.

• You want more from last night, check out the Clipperblog recap. It’s very good.

• Four games in, but the Lakers are playing at the fourth fastest pace in the league, behind only the Knicks, Nuggets and Pacers. That said, the pace they are at is very close to last year.

• Phil Jackson has mentioned concern with teams beating the new Lakers defense by using the skip pass to someone for an open three. The Clippers started to do that, particularly Davis hitting Mobley for some open looks. I think this is one of the things we can expect to see a fair amount of this year. (Here’s a fear of mine, Chris Paul and David West on the strong side drawing a lot of attention and a quick skip pass over to Peja behind the three point line.)

• By all reports (including the comments here from game attendees) the crowd was a little quiet last night. Honestly, I had a little trouble getting into the flow. Maybe it was a post-election hangover, but also games where the Lakers get 22 trips to the free throw line in the fourth quarter just don’t seem to have a flow.

• I watched some of the Pistons game last night, and I’m very curious to see how Iverson blends with that squad. They are very good. I didn’t love the short-term ramifications for the Pistons of the big trade, but after watching them I think with AI they could be a real threat to the Celtics in the East. If, and that’s a big if, he can really blend in with his teammates on the court and become a little more efficient.

• Happy 29th birthday Lamar Odom.

• Kevin at True Hoop also gave me my best laugh of the day, talking about how Carmelo wanted to score 44 points last night to honor Barak Obama.

Unfortnuately, Anthony finished with only 28 points on 13-30 shooting from the field. In doing so, Anthony pays homage to the nation’s 28th President, Woodrow Wilson (D-NJ).

• Finally, a little late but here they are, your Pacific Division previews:

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Golden St. Warriors
Rob Mahoney: Upside and Motor

LA Clippers
ClipperSteve: Clips Nation

LA Lakers
Kurt: Forum Blue & Gold
Josh Tucker: Respect Kobe
Trevor Smith: HoopsAddict

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Stan: Bright Side of the Sun

Sacramento Kings
Tom Ziller: Sactown Royalty

Also see links to all the previews at