Friday Reading: The Lakers’ New Offense

Darius Soriano —  August 24, 2012

While there’s not been an official announcement, all signs point to the Lakers bringing in Eddie Jordan as an assistant coach next season and implementing the Princeton Offense. We’ve touched on this topic some already and believe this will be a great step forward for the Lakers as a whole.

We’re not the only ones that think this is a positive step forward for the Lakers however. Over at Grantland, the great Sebastian Pruiti has a fantastic breakdown (including video) of how the Lakers’ stars will fit into the new offense, concluding with this take:

In my opinion, the Lakers are going to start running bits and pieces of this offense here and there in the early days of next season, working it in slowly. However, once the Lakers see how successful this offense is, and I do believe that it will be extremely successful, they will incorporate it more and more and you will see them running it at a high rate. I just think that an offense like this complements everyone on this team’s skill set, allowing each player to have success with a particular aspect of it.

I’m completely on board with the idea that as the team gets more comfortable, we’ll them run it more frequently as their base offense. And while Pruiti focuses mostly on the Lakers’ star players, I’d argue that we’ll see the bench players run the Princeton much more frequently in order to get the most out of the talent they’ll have on the floor.

Remember, one of the main reasons the Lakers’ bench struggled last year was because they often didn’t have the talent on the floor to produce the types of good looks the first team did with Kobe, Pau, and Bynum anchoring them. Instead, the Lakers often only had one or (sometimes) two of the their best offensive players on the floor and that led to sets breaking down more often with the final result being a forced look with the shot clock winding down. And while the Lakers have brought in more talented offensive players to help anchor their bench in Jamison and Meeks (more on this in a separate post), having the foundation of an offensive system to lean on will aid them greatly.

Pruiti isn’t the only one breaking down how the Princeton will fly with the new-look Lakers, however. Coach Nick of BBall Breakdown also put together a very good video breakdown of the offense, specifically focusing on what he calls the Dwight Howard and Steve Nash effect:

Furthermore, at his site, Nick adds more about how he envisions some of the key Lakers will fit into the offense:

With the kind of cutting the Princeton provides (so long as the Lakers execute it, ahem, Kobe), the opponents defense will be in a crucible. Whomever they help off of will lead to open shots for some of the best all around offensive players in the league. Expect Pau Gasol to have a resurgence this year, setting back screens and flaring out for high post jump shots, as well as an occasional post up when Dwight needs a rest. Kobe can really use the movement to his advantage to gain very deep post position which would make him virtually unstoppable.

These are all only projections, of course. But, the foundation of talent combined with offensive know-how is already in place with this Lakers’ group. More than half of the Lakers roster (Kobe, Ron, Pau, Jamison, Hill, Blake, Ebanks, and Meeks) have already played in a read and react system for either Phil Jackson, Rick Adelman, or Eddie Jordan. That’s the entire expected rotation save for Nash and Howard (two players that can fit into most any offensive system well). I’ve little doubt that this group will be able to acclimate themselves to this offense and end up as one of the better offensive teams in the league.

It will take some time for the players to mesh and the coaches will have to find the right rotations and player combinations to maximize the team’s success. However, as Pruiti and Coach Nick detailed, the structure of the offense should be a good fit for these players and that foundation along with the smarts of the players should lead to positive results.

Darius Soriano

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