The Strategy Session: One Play, Two Actions, Same Result

Darius Soriano —  November 1, 2012

Welcome to the Strategy Session. In this space we’ll explore different aspects of the game from a strategy standpoint. It may mean looking at a coaching decision — like determining a rotation. Or a specific offensive play that we think will work. Or it could be an examination of a defensive scheme. Sometimes we’ll use video others we’ll just blab away for a while on the topic of the day. Hope you enjoy it.

With a lot of negatives to focus on after the Lakers’ first two games, I thought I’d instead look at something that has worked in the past and should be able to work again in the future.

Contrary to popular sentiment, the Lakers’ offense really isn’t the chief problem with this team right now. Of course there are issues — most notably Steve Nash still finding his balance between on/off ball effectiveness and a feel of clunkiness that persists to sets the team is still picking up on — but the team is shooting the ball pretty well and has shown glimpses of what they can be once they settle in and find their stride.

One such action that can aid them in moving forward in a positive direction (it proved to work in the preseason) and should continue to be a useful play for the Lakers is a strong side hand-off sequence. This action utilizes Nash, Kobe, and Dwight on the same side of the floor and puts the defense in a position to make tough choices. All three players are threats on the play and when run crisply it creates good looks.

This first example leads to the type of shot the Lakers want Kobe taking:

The play starts with Nash bringing the ball up the right sideline while Dwight waits at the elbow and Kobe sits on the wing. Nash enters the Howard and proceeds to set a screen for Kobe who curls off the pick towards Dwight. Kobe continues his cut, takes the hand-off from Dwight and then elevates for his jumper over DeMarcus Cousins who helped a split second too late. Kobe knocks down the 16 footer, a high percentage shot for him.

This play worked so well, the Lakers decided they were going to run the exact same action on their next possession. The only difference is that they run it on the other side of the floor:

Here, again, you see Nash bringing the ball up the floor (this time on the left side) with Kobe (on the wing) and Dwight (at the elbow) in the exact same positions. Nash makes his entry to Dwight, proceeds to set his screen for Kobe who then curls to take the hand off from Howard. Here’s where you see the difference, however. When Kobe gets the ball he again looks to elevate for his shot but he’s drawing more defensive attention with a quicker reaction as well. Kobe recognizes the defense is out of position and when Howard rolls to the hoop he leads him to the rim with a lob pass that is dunked home.

One play, two actions, same result.

There are even more actions that can be run off this single look. In both of the above plays, Steve Nash’s man sinks to the lane line to try and help on Howard’s dive to the rim. If Kobe is looking that way, he can hit him for an open jumper. On the play where Kobe threw the lob, you’ll notice that Ron’s man came over to help and left him open on the wing for a wide open jumper. Other options include Nash, instead of flaring to the wing, cutting back door after setting the screen or Kobe, rather than accepting Nash’s screen, cutting back door when Nash comes over to try and free him.

One of the key principles to the Princeton offense is setting up plays to look the same but then countering what the defense does through reading how they react to the action in front of them. The Lakers are trying to get to the point where all of these options are utilized; where the players working together can recognize what the defense is doing and then respond accordingly.

In some cases — like the plays above — they’ve made headway. In many others they’re not yet close. The result is flashes of brilliance mixed with bouts of frustration. The hope is that we see more progress soon. But the good thing is, that hope can be rooted in knowing that this stuff actually does work.

Darius Soriano

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to The Strategy Session: One Play, Two Actions, Same Result

  1. Great post and totally agree offense is not the problem far from it. That play worked last night too. Kobe got 2 dunks and 2 lay ups. And missed Dwight on a pass that went out of bounds. There’s another play that reverses the ball while Pau/Dwight get a back pick for great post position that’s been effective. Nash has found players for good shots. The defense has been so bad it’s overshadowed some good sets on offense.


  2. Turnovers and defense have been the biggest problem areas. Turnovers could be partially blamed on the new system but I expect they will commit fewer once they are more comfortable running the offense. Not exactly sure what Brown’s strategy on defense is but it needs to revolve around Howard (once he is fully back). My doubts with Coach Brown are not so much with the X’s and O’s but more with the mental part of the game. Will he be able to push the right buttons? Will he be able to manage the ego’s? Will he be able to motivate his guys? And more importantly, will his guys go to battle for him? Do they trust and believe in him as their leader? Just not sure he is that guy. People might say Spoelstra is not that guy either but the Heat were able to get it done, but what people forget is that Spoelstra has Ole Riles to be that guy.


  3. Mike Brown is a terrible coach. He knows more about designer eye wear than developing a winning player rotation. Eddie Jordan is much more knowledgeable. Lakers best interest is removing Mike Brown now, and replacing him with Eddie Jordan. Mike Brown continuing to coach the Lakers can’t be defended. Brown’s Lakers record and play speak for themselves.


  4. X’s and O’s aren’t the problem. It’s the Lakers roster. Lakers have glaring deficiency for youth and talent at the point guard position. Lakers can’t rely on Nash entirely. Nash has defensive deficiencies and is too old for heavy minutes. Steve Blake was a huge Mitch Kupchak signing mistake. Other teams don’t want Blake or Duhon, Lakers hands are tied. Darius Morris? Lakers can’t tolerate his mistakes yet his youth, length and quickness may be best current roster option to create energy.

    Reliance on a 40 yr old point guard without depth and Mike Brown coaching doesn’t make for a Championship season.


  5. Mike Brown is in fact part of the problem. Sure, our roster is not balanced, specially when you look at our bench, but that’s not the part that worries me. What worries me is the fact that Mike Brown is not consistent at all… Most NBA coaches have a rotation that they follow throughout a game, regardless of the opponent they face. Most european coaches try to adjust their rotation to their opponent and ride the hot hand that day. It just seems that MB doesn’t know what to do…

    Regarding our offense, I agree that the Princeton offense is great when you have a lineup with a high basketball IQ and players who complement each other. However, when you get to the highest level of basketball (i.e. the Lakers), you really need to use each player’s strength in order to have success. While the above plays show success for this set, having sets that require on our PG setting picks for Kobe is probably not the best way to go. Kobe is usually guarded by players who are 6’6” and taller, and I simply do not see how we can protect Nash’s body in this set (regardless of the success rate). We should have a simple offense that runs through our PG or through our skilled 7 footer when Nash is on the bench. It should be a pick’n roll heavy offense with Pau flashing to the high post often.

    Of course that no team can resist this insane amount of turnovers, but perhaps keeping the ball in Nahs’s and Pau’s hands would be the best way to avoid them.


  6. All of our starters had efficient offensive performances (except for Nash but he left early). But to be honest, everyone out there looks a little lost in the Princeton, except for Kobe. For me that’s a surprise, because I thought he would struggle to fit in the offense, but it just comes to show how great Kobe Bryant is.

    I agree with ReignMan, the core issues are turnovers and defense. No one is buying Coach Brown’s ‘hard work’ mantra in those respects, in my opinion. This team needs to bust more ass out there.


  7. From Coach Brown yesterday (on abandoning the PO for the P’n’R):

    “We could do it now,” Brown said. “We could spread the floor and play pick-and-roll all the time. We can have different types of play calls that are pick-and-roll and Steve said we’ll score. And he said, but, A) It will wear him out and B) It will make him one dimensional so when we play the good teams, they’ll figure out that one thing we’re good at and they’ll take that away. Then when we’re in seven-game playoff series, for sure the later you get in the playoffs, they’ll be able to take us out of our offense because we’ll be so one dimensional. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to eliminate that and try to be hard to guard because it’s a read-based offense.”

    I hope this puts an end to all this chatter about how we are running “lack-a-Nash”.

    Darius, I wish there was a “clipboard” kind of area on the page where you (and only you) could pin stuff like this. Makes it easy to refute posters who are stuck on the “Brown is killing the team O with this whole Princeton thing” 🙂


  8. Nice breakdown. As you described, Kobe attacking is the first option, him hitting the roll man Howard is the second option. Nash as a great shooter takes the position where the play started in case Kobe throws back for the spot-up shot, the third option

    My guess is the normal progression after that, if neither of the first three options yielded a good shot and Nash ends up with the ball, is that Kobe spaces out and Nash and Howard have the whole side of the court for a two-man action. This could be either a simple post entry if Howard got good position and sealed on his initial roll to the basket. Or Nash could call him to step out for yet another pick-and-roll where the three help defenders now have a longer way because they had to set up on the other side of the lane to avoid defensive 3 seconds.

    After throwing the ball back to the spot where the play originated, you usually have a great angle for a post entry plus a defense which just contracted to take away Kobe’s penetration (including Howard’s defender). It all depends on Howard’s ability to seal early when his man gives up position and hold down that spot until Nash is ready to throw a post entry. Tim Duncan is great at this, Pau is not so great, it’ll be interesting to see how Howard fights for space even before the pass can be made but when it’s easiest for him to gain some ground.


  9. any one mouse

    In the playoffs the opposing team has done enough scouting to know your plays regardless what offense you run. The postseason is about making adjustments during the game, thats where the chess match on the sidelines begin, and thats where this team will lose. LA could run the PO to perfection, that doesnt mean that it is unstoppable. An offensive system can win you a championship in college, but in the league talent wins everytime. LA has plenty of talent it is a shame that it is being wasted.


  10. Taking the passion out for wanting everything to go right and for Lakers to win every game. There are a lot of signs of dominance from this team. I think the offensive strategy should be put to bed. The Princeton mixed with Nash PnR will be extremely effective. So far in 2 games offensively players have been put in position to be successful. Kobe’s getting the ball in his sweet spots and on the move, Pau is getting it in the high post and with his back to the basket, Dwight getting post ups his PnR’s will come and Nash has been ok but he’ll get more PnR. Players have been put in position to be successful offensively. Lakers offense will be a juggernaut.

    Versus Dallas missing 19 FT’s. If they hit at the clip they did vs Portland (81%) they score 103 pts. Vs Portland they had 24 TO’s scored 106 pts if they turned it over as much as they did vs Dallas (14) they could possibly score 130 pts.

    63 FT’s in 2 games the Dwight affect is already working.

    All Brown has to do is fix the defense and keep a steady 10 man rotation. That includes playing Earl Clark and Devin Ebanks benching Jamison. I’m more inclined to be patient after looking at some positives. I’ll still bitch in the moment but I think this team will be fine still need the bench to step up.


  11. TheNCDon,

    My point wasn’t to say that the PO is un-guardable (though it is harder to guard against, much like the triangle, because there aren’t “plays” as much as “reads”) – but to share Coach Brown’s thoughts on the offense.

    My takeaways from that snippet were:
    1. Coach says we can run P-n-R any time.
    2. Coach has given Nash the freedom to decide what he wants to run.
    3. Most importantly, it is *Nash* who feels that in the absence of a “system”, he will be overburdened.

    This last point cannot be stressed enough – Brown isn’t imposing some system that the players are not fit for. Rather it’s the players themselves (Nash and Kobe, who was excited about the possibilities that the PO affords) who are asking for it.

    And I maintain that while the O looks disjointed, the issue is more with our D. We scored 106 points yesterday while gifting away 25 turnovers. Cut that number by half, account for each team’s shooting percentages (at or near 50%), and you’ll see a very different result.


  12. I think we need to use Nash more in the second unit. All the other players are doing pretty well but Steve Nash seems to be inefficient in the system (for now). I think if you use him in the second unit he’ll get easy points to all the players that need it most; and Blake works well with Kobe making him the primary ball handler, which is what hes used to anyway.


  13. “Vs Portland they had 24 TO’s scored 106 pts if they turned it over as much as they did vs Dallas (14) they could possibly score 130 pts.”

    So 10 possessions = 24 points… That would translate to an otherworldly 2.4 points per possession.


  14. Lakers are going through some growing pains. But don’t hit the panic button yet. They have some of the highest IQ players in the league on this team and a ton of talent and will be able to turn it around soon. Mike Brown is taking alot of heat so far some fair and some not. I think he is a great coach before and after the game but his in game decisions and rotations are tough to swallow at times. I totally agree with the heavy minutes for the starters at this point in the season as being too much. Mainly Kobe nursing a foot injury and Dwight off his back surgery. Pau is a workhorse and I don’t mind if he plays 40 mins when needed but when the game is out of reach save their legs. I agree he should stagger the starters minutes a bit better. And with Nash and Kobe being the main ball handlers or creaters on the team I think they shouldn’t being playing together unless it was the first 6 minutes of the game and the last 6, at least not substituted together. You have to find a way to use the bench effectively. Meeks should be getting at least 12 to 14 mins a game a SG. Ebanks needs to be backing up MWP. Jamison at the 4 never the 3. Then Rotate Dwight and Pau at the Center position. I don’t understand the full lineup change or 4 bench players with either Dwight or Pau. It’s great to try and match up on the fly during the game and that’s all I can think he is trying to do. But you need to have an idea of when you are going to sub people in regardless of who you are playing. You have to trust your team, including the bench and if you are down you cannot just leave the starters in there for long minutes hoping for a come back. Regardless of the rotations the players on this team are too gifted and they will win enough games for us to compete in the playoffs.


  15. Jason: you take the most outlandish statement in the post instead of one of the more subtle ones. Point is Lakers offense is working. They would’ve scores 120 easily if not for so many turnovers. 130 was overexagerating a bit. Pick that apart.


  16. I concur the offense is fine if the Lakers cut half of the TOs they did and converted half of them, the Lakers would had scored around 120 points and those 28 points the Blazers got out of those TOs would not had happened, simple as that, the defense was atrocious and i put that on Dwight and i dont mean it in a he sucks kind of way, he obviouly have his defensive timing off, better than the first game but off nonetheless, once he starts getting it togheter and locking down the paint the Lakers defense as a whole will improve exponentially, i have a feeling that is going to start happening on Friday, and Coach Brown? Make up your damn mind about the rotation you have 10 games to figured out and still dont have a clue, other than that this team will be a offensive beast nobody should expect a lockdown defensive team but a team that makes stops when it has to, most nights they will outgun everyone youll see


  17. To all of you in Laker land who can’t watch the games live – I’m not advocating anything merely passing on information – but there is a wonderful site called that has live streaming links for every game on every night including all lakers games which is great for me in northern Alberta to see games not on tv, or if you don’t have cable or if you can’t afford league pass streaming on comp. The quality varies from HD to some pixelated streaming but at least you can watch the games on comp or laptop. No costs/no downloads – merely provides links to live free streams – at least that way you guys can watch while waiting for the tv situation there to get settled


  18. My issue is the rotation. We have the luxury of having four allstars. We have an added luxury of having two of the 4 being guards and the other two being centers. Even split. Mike brown, please listen: At no point should steve blake be the dominant guard on the floor when you have kobe and nash available. Divide the minutes so nash and howard steers the bench & kobe and Pau should steer the other bench while nash n Howard rest. This is so elementary, now what’s wrong with brown.


  19. With Nash out would love to see duhon or Morris start on Friday – at least then we might have a chace at containing Paul or Bledsoe


  20. Pleasure watching the Spurs with a great smart offense and a great smart defense. No excuse machine there just a team concept and the right rotations.


  21. What I saw on the flaws of the Princeton Offense were the time wasted in passing the ball top of the foul line. Nobody is looking for his shot but more waiting for any opening to Howard or somebody cuts in away from his guard. Because of its constant experimentation, it disrupted their inherent style that made these four superstars famous. Nash becomes a ball distributor than a producer from his spot shots, dissing inside or playing pick and roll. Kobe was relegated to a passer and he is no longer a threat that invites double teaming. Gasol was also tentative and I don’t know whether his trap moves in defense have any effect last night, he was so late in covering Aldridge. Aldridge sent him to the cleaners because Gasol was totally ineffective whether we are talking of offense or defense. What I saw last night was confusion and it was Howard and Kobe talents that carried us and kept the score close.

    Once the bench comes in, Duhon, Sacre, Jamison, Ebanks, the spread became unreachable. It is a repetition of preseason which many of you here say that those are just preseason. They are symptoms and we failed to recognize them. Again, we commit to the follies “Oh, it’s only two games, it was just a slow start, Kobe says we all shut up”. This has been going on for quite sometime and you didn’t recognize it. You treated these coaches as indispensable commodities like sacred cows. It is best to recognize the problem early than cram in the end.


  22. I believe that Eddie Jordan can teach Lakers how to play Princeton offense, Jason Kidd could play with New Jersey Nets, Nash can do it too. Check

    People said that teams using PO can’t win championship, but i think teams have to play defense to win championship, if a coach thinks his team only needs to run PO to outscore opponents, then this is his problem not PO problem. Minnesota team can run PO with less talent players. If Lakers team can run PO, cut down TO, play solid defense, Lakers will have a chance in the playoffs.


  23. Having watched the Spurs and OKC they are both gold.
    Great starters, bench and coaching.

    The Clippers are deep and Silver.

    The Lakers so far are Brown.

    Could we be looking at a 4th seed.


  24. The consolation prize of our 0-2 start, the Thunder looked out of sorts today and looked like they took a step back. They messed up a good thing out there in OKC and that should at least lessen the blow of our horrendous start.


  25. 1/2decaf1/2regular:

    Here’s what Coachie had to say:
    “What I told Eddie is that it might work for this team for several reasons. One is that you’re going to get easy shots for Kobe Bryant. And over the last several years, I’ve seen where his shots have become harder and harder to get. He’s getting older and more tired, so I’d like to see whether they can get him some easy shots. He’s going to make them.”

    In general the gist of what he had to say was that the system would work if the players bought it, and in this case I think the players have endorsed it.

    I’m not an authority on the offense and in no position to comment on which offense is the best for this team. But I do know that blaming Coach Brown for the inefficiency of our O is a little disingenuous at this poInt. As I have stated before I think the O is actually coming along nicely – except, of course for the turnovers. I also think its way too early to say that the PO is curtailing Nash’s effectiveness. We have to accept that the PO, like the triangle, doesn’t favor one dominant ball-handler.


  26. What if instead of kobe waiting at the wing with nash bringing up the ball, lakers have kobe bring up the ball and nash at the wing receiving the pass and pick from kobe? This would allow Nash and Dwight to work the PnR and also puts Nash in a spot to find other players while working the PnR with Dwight. Also this keeps Nash’s body from being used as screens. Would this be more effective or just too silly to have anyone else but Nash bring up the ball?


  27. This last point cannot be stressed enough – Brown isn’t imposing some system that the players are not fit for

    Perhaps. It is equally likely, however, if not more so, that Nash is just being a good company man, as he has been throughout his career. His rep is what it is in large part due to teh fact that he seldon rips anyone in the media.


  28. TNT guys just ripping Lakers offense and mike Brown.


  29. “the” and “seldom.”

    We have to accept that the PO, like the triangle, doesn’t favor one dominant ball-handler.

    Then it probably is not an offense to run a lot if you have Steve Nash at the 1. As I said in the other thread, the opener was the first game since 2008 in which Nash played more than 30 minutes and had fewer than five assists.

    The only defenses of Brown right now are sample size and Howard’s back; the Lakers have been soundly beaten in back-to-back games by probable lottery teams while playing Howard, Gasol, and Bryant very heavy minutes. That is pretty hard to spin.


  30. Wow Harden 37 and 14. Wow


  31. Perhaps. It is equally likely, however, if not more so, that Nash is just being a good company man, as he has been throughout his career.
    What’s even more likely than Nash biting his tongue is that he’s committed to the process of building towards the team’s goal over the course of an 82 game season. That, more than being a “good company man” has been his m.o. as a player throughout his career.


  32. Parker sure did look better than an average pg tonight : )


  33. I can’t look at huge turnover numbers, and the resulting easy scores for opponents, and conclude that “the offense is not the problem.”

    I also believe that lack of flow on the offensive end OC the court bleeds into the defensive end. The Lakers are not looking aggressive or confident at either end. They are thinking, not playing.

    Until they find a rhythm on offense that will persist.


  34. What’s even more likely than Nash biting his tongue is that he’s committed to the process of building towards the team’s goal over the course of an 82 game season. That, more than being a “good company man

    Neither of us knows. And, frankly, being a “good company man” is more or less the behavior that you described.

    Like I said, the defenses of Brown right now are sample size and Howard’s back. The team has looked terrible on defense, and while the offense has been pretty good, Nash has not been. These are facts, and are being talked about as such by credible people like Pelton and the KBros.


  35. rr:

    “Perhaps. It is equally likely, however, if not more so, that Nash is just being a good company man, as he has been throughout his career. His rep is what it is in large part due to teh fact that he seldon rips anyone in the media.”

    Here’s the quote from Coach Brown:

    “The first thing is, with our offense, every time down the floor — and if they want to, they can call up Steve Nash and ask him — Steve Nash has the right to play pick-and-roll if he wants to,” Brown said. “(Nash) doesn’t feel like he’s as burdened because he doesn’t have to make every play for everybody all the time with what we’re trying to do. He can give it up and still have a chance to get it back. So, he said that he feels as fresh as he ever felt in his career because he doesn’t feel the pressure of making every single play.”

    [Rest of the article is here:

    So, either Brown is lying or Nash really has asked to be less of a focal point on offense.


  36. rr:

    “Then it probably is not an offense to run a lot if you have Steve Nash at the 1. As I said in the other thread, the opener was the first game since 2008 in which Nash played more than 30 minutes and had fewer than five assists.”

    What I had pointed out earlier was that Nash himself has advocated for an offensive system that isn’t so dependent on him. Assuming this is true, I would say Brown is listening to his player(s). Whether the PO is that system is not for me to judge, but given the fact that the team is actually shooting 50%, I would say at least parts of it are working. I don’t know if you can measure its appropriateness by Nash’s personal stats though.


  37. rr,
    I’m not sure what you’re arguing then. You tell me “neither of us knows” on the heels of telling someone else what’s “more likely” (as if you do, in fact, know) based off his statements and your perception of his career.

    Also, there’s no argument that Nash hasn’t looked good. It’s obvious. As I’ve written, Nash carries a burden every night in that he’s triggering an offense that is designed to try and take advantage of everyone’s talents. Pau has looked very good on O. Kobe has too. Dwight just had a monster game (albeit against suspect competition). That may be the early trade off for Nash not looking as strong. I wonder what the discussion would sound like if Nash looked great running a bunch of P&R w/ Howard but Kobe not looking as good mostly spotting up (ala Jared Dudley or Jason Richardson) and Pau parked behind the arc as a floor spacer (ala Channing Frye). Because things could easily play out that way too.


  38. And here’s the Mamba himself preaching patience:

    It addresses pretty much everything we talked about on this thread:

    1. Patience – “Let us work. At the end of the day, you’ll be happy with the result as you normally are”
    2. The PO is *not* “something that was reserved for guys who ran around in little itty bitty shorts that have no talent”
    3. Nash on the PO – “could end up being the best thing for this team.”
    4. Nash on his role in the PO – “It’s not all about how I can be the centerpiece. It’s about how can we all collectively make each other better, and I think this offense provides us with an opportunity to do that, albeit, in time.”
    5. Brown on the O – “And even with it being just OK, right now with 25 less opportunities than what we should’ve had (the Lakers had 25 turnovers against Portland), we score 106 points and shoot 51 percent from the floor. How much better do we need to be offensively to win?”


  39. It’s tough to compare prime Arenas and Kidd to old Nash but they thrived in this system. Nash is the only one who doesn’t look comfortable and I’ll assume it’s because of the floor not being as spaced as he’s used too. He’s had the ball and is making decisions but it’s 3 players on this team better than him. These first 10 games are a clear example. He’s help for this team goes beyond the stat sheet. He’s getting the team into sets something Sessions and Fisher had trouble with last year.

    Not running PnR every possession will save his legs. Speaking of legs his are an awkward bambi he’s had trouble keeping his balance this year. Hurt his ankle with contact in preseason, has slipped numerous times coming off screens including vs portland and hurt his shin because of contact. The slightest nudges and he’s getting nicked up. The Princeton is the best thing for him right now. It’s keeping him upright.

    The offense will come together for the starters.


  40. One of the most glaring questions is,how long Kobe and Laker organisation will suck up refs’ abominable whistle swallowing act against him for about 6 years now.?


  41. I like that the players are patient and willing to work through this process, and I also agree that the offense hasn’t been the major problem so far. But let’s put to rest the idea that Nash would be “worn out” by running a majority of the offense.

    ” ‘He can play pick-and-roll if he wants to, but even he said he doesn’t want to do that anymore because it wears him out,’ Brown said….

    Asked whether that was indeed the case, Nash said, ‘It’s not that it wears me out. It’s that I’m not sure right now that should be the focus right now.’ ”

    Bottom line, Nash is swallowing any ego and trying to get everyone else comfortable with the new offense before he starts exerting more influence. The guy was a 1 man offensive show for multiple years, including last year. He didn’t suddenly age so much in 2 months that he can’t handle being the focal point of an offense. All 4 of our players will have to restrain themselves to some degree, but Nash is doing it the most right now. Which is fine in the short-term.


  42. Snoopy,

    That offensive versatility will be truly amazing once this team finds its defensive chops (however high or low the ceiling may be). We are going to have so many offensive weapons that it’s going to be blinding for opposing defenses. Nash is going to burn down the house some nights, Kobe others. Howard’s going to have a monster season.

    As many have pointed out, it’s been our defense that has led to the losses. Out of place interior defenders have opened up second chance opportunities for our opponents and wide driving lanes for opposing wings and guards. Once the starters develop chemistry on the defensive side, I’m very confident that this team will start rolling.

    Others may disagree, but I think that the team has show such noticeable improvement with each game beginning in the preseason. Wins in the first two games would have been nice, and definitely keeping more starters on the floor at all times would be a welcome rotation adjustment. I echo what others have said about the distribution: 1 big and 1 small starter at all times would probably translate to more success.

    BUT… the irony hasn’t escaped me that much of the criticism Brown receives for his reliance on the second unit was shared by another controversial but supremely successful coach.That coach would throw four bench players in with one starter during regular season games, hoping that the trust shown in those situations translated to greater individual performances in the playoffs. I can’t help but think that the number of reps Blake received last year during the regular season were good preparation for his post-season performance, which everyone was somewhat surprised with. Nothing builds confidence like confidence from others. That said, Phil accomplished this OJT while still winning enough games to seed relatively high. Brown’s gotta show that same predilection for victory, especially with this historic squad.

    Bold prediction, we’re going to look like world beaters in a month


  43. That’s not a Princeton set. That’s a variation of the UCLA high post.


  44. Kareem – I generally agree. Even if it wasn’t the classic PO, I thought the movement and cuts we saw spurts of in our first game were fantastic – especially for guys like Jamison. With that said, I also believe in running the PnR to death. Because the PO is read-and-react, I think a lot of us are generally viewing the PnR as some 1-trick pony. There are a a lot of variations on the PnR that can be run, which is a reason it’s been the most successful single play in NBA history – especially in this era. We have the offensive talent to make any system – even Vinny Del Negro’s – look like gangbusters. And I do believe in the PO, and that it will take time. But I’d still like to see us practicing different permutations of the PnR (at least the 1-5) because when you have as devastating a finisher and precise an orchestrator as we do, simplicity is sometimes best.

    Quin Snyder had an excellent FIBA Assist article on the permutations of the PnR that I linked to a while ago. It’s a phenomenal read (pg 8):

    I’m fine with the team trying to master the principles of the PO and then gradually phase in more PnR, but I’d like to see the starters running at least 50% of their offense through the PnR by the end of the season. It’s potentially as devastating an offense weapon – if not more – than the PO.

    In the end, I think we all agree that the defense is the most pressing matter. Our weaknesses there are likely made up of some varying amounts of Howard’s limited mobility, perimeter slowness, unfamiliarity, and scheme. What I’ve been wondering for a couple days is how much our perimeter slowness is a contributory factor, and how much of that 100% Howard can actually compensate for.

    I always looked superficially at the weak defenders on the Magic roster and assumed Howard would easily be able to transform this team (with superior individual defenders) into a top-flight defense. But it is true that Nelson, Lewis, and maybe even Turk – while all poor defenders – cover ground better than their respective counterparts on our team, and in a system built around Dwight Howard that might be a crucial difference.


  45. Dejan Bodiroga,
    Most high post sets are “variations of the UCLA” offense. However, the action above — high post entry, guard to guard screen action — is definitely a Princeton set. Here’s a clip of Houston (under Rick Adelman) running this exact action against the Lakers (at the 28 second mark). The only difference is that, as I described in my post, the wing receiving the screen cut back door when his defender overreacted to the man coming to set a pick on him.


  46. Win or Lose, I find it a little bit concerning that starters are already in the 40+ minute range. Dwight needs the reps, but no reason for Pau and Kobe to be playing that much this early in the season. What’s the point of keeping Sacre on the roster if we aren’t going to test him out early in the season. We know the starters are going to play heavy minutes down the stretch and into the playoffs, why waste their energy this early on when we’re still finding a rhythm?


  47. A poor offensive strategy can cause more turnover, undecisiveness, etc. I thought this is obvious. No?


  48. The Lakers won’t run a lot of the PnR until Howard is fully recovered. He needs have that Dwight explosiveness and mobility to be a dominant roller.


  49. BW,
    Yes it is obvious. I guess that’s why the Lakers turned the ball over so much against Dallas right? Oh, wait, they didn’t.

    There is no narrative that fits the Lakers’ offensive woes beyond “I don’t like it” right now. Someone can point to Nash’s struggles but then someone else can point to Kobe and Pau playing well. Someone can point to the pace of the games but the Lakers, so far, are getting more possessions than they did last season.

    Concerns about the offense have some validity. I have some myself. But the offense isn’t the root of all the problems.


  50. Great post.

    I am with Snoopy, I would also like to know more about how much our perimeter slowness is affecting the defense and how much of that could be erased by Howard.

    p.s.: I would really like to see the return of numbered comments if possible.