Two Mikes, One Formula, Different Implementations

Darius Soriano —  December 31, 2012

Through today, Mike D’Antoni has coached the Lakers for 20 games. In those contests the Lakers are 10-10, buoyed by a recent surge that’s seen them win six of seven. Those wins have coincided with the schedule titling back in their favor with easier opponents, the return of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol from injury, and some much needed days off between contests that have allowed this team to practice.

While the strength of schedule can not be overlooked, the return of Nash and Gasol combined with the practice time have clearly made a difference for this team. With their full allotment of players (save for Steve Blake) and time together to mesh in non-game situations, Mike D’Antoni has finally had the time to sort out how he wants this team to play.

Five games into the regular season, Mike Brown was fired after only winning a single contest. Though he’d had a full training camp, he’d never really gotten the chance to sort out how his team would play in game situations. Though all his players were available to him in practice, Dwight Howard was not playing in most the pre-season contests. Combine this with Kobe and Pau both missing at least one preseason game and Jordan Hill developing a herniated disk during camp, and the Lakers never had their full roster available to them to see how they would play together in a live action setting. Brown also had a camp full of players all vying for one or two spots on the team, further complicating how he’d deploy players.

What also complicated matters was the fact that Brown clearly had a plan that would take time. He was implementing the Princeton Offense. He needed full buy in from the players (which he was getting), but also needed them to get through the growing pains of learning a read and react offense while also learning how to play together. This wasn’t like Phil Jackson taking over an established roster who’d had years together and understood how to play off each other. No, Brown had a team that was turned over by half and a system that depended on cohesiveness. As we said throughout the tough sledding that was the pre-season, this would take time.

One of Mike Brown’s main ideas was to lessen the load on Steve Nash while, at the same time, trying to maximize the strengths of the rest of the roster. This is why the Princeton Offense was considered a viable experiment. No, it wouldn’t allow Nash to be Steve Nash all the time, but it would put him in positions to be successful while doing the same for Howard, Gasol, and Kobe. Nash would also have the freedom to run whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Mike Brown called Nash the quarterback of the team and he meant it. If Nash wanted to run the P&R every possession, he could have.

But Nash, like Brown (and Kobe and Howard and Gasol, it should be mentioned), were about the process. They wanted this Princeton idea to take root, grow, and sprout the fruit that would be the foundation of their team. They would play together. The sacrifice that each made would, hopefully, lead to a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Nash, as the point guard and the man with the ball in his hands to start each possession, took this idea to heart and held back his individual game in order to try and build up the group. He is, after all, a true floor general.

Steering the team in this direction, with a leader like Nash at the helm who would trust the process even in the face of the team’s struggles, over everything else, was maybe Mike Brown’s biggest mistake.

Mike D’Antoni has a history with Steve Nash. They’ve been partners in each other’s most successful times on a basketball floor. In his introductory press conference (and, to this day after Nash has played well in recent games), D’Antoni speaks of Nash in tones that go beyond reverent. Nash is his guy and he understands how having him lead an offense can uplift a team. Give Nash the ball and let him be Steve Nash. This is the way that D’Antoni has won games in this league and, after years in New York of not being able to simply give the ball to him, he will do it now in Los Angeles.

But Mike D’Antoni is not dumb. He also has 3 other players on this team who, along with Nash, form the most talented group of players he’s ever coached. Simply giving the ball to Nash at the expense of utilizing Kobe, Howard, and Gasol in ways that maximize their production would be silly. Nash, of course, can help in this area with his playmaking and leadership. But these are also players who can make Nash better by occupying defenders and giving him the space for him to get open shots and wider driving lanes to attack.

In recent games, we’ve seen D’Antoni start to sort this out. He’s using Nash off the ball more as a screener and utilizing Gasol’s passing ability in HORNS sets. The results have been devastating to defenses that find themselves having to deal with three fantastic finishers all working off the ball with screens and cuts designed to get them in position where they are most effective. There are simply too many options to defend with players who are too skilled to not find the space they need to get the ball and do something positive with it.

In watching these recent games and seeing Nash work off the ball, I have to think that Mike Brown is wondering where it all went wrong for him. Watching the Lakers run a combination of Nash led pick and rolls and HORNS sets (sets Brown had the Lakers run last season), I’m reminded of what Brown wanted to do with this team all along. I stood right in front of him before the Lakers’ first preseason game in Fresno where he talked about what he envisioned for this team. How Nash would have the ultimate freedom to run what he wanted, but that their system would be the Princeton and that would help everyone be at their best. He wanted offensive diversity to the tune of P&R’s and Princeton sets integrated in a manner that would, ultimately, be unstoppable when it was all figured out.

D’Antoni has seemingly taken that template but tweaked it ever so slightly. Rather than emphasizing the system that takes Nash off the ball, he is telling Nash to run the P&R. This allows Nash to operate in his comfort zone first while still taking advantage of the talents of all the players. Secondary are the HORNS sets that look and feel more traditional, but also lessen Nash’s load while at the same time using Pau in a way that maximizes his passing while putting Kobe and Dwight in positions where they are attacking off the ball to establish position where they can score.

The final product we’re seeing now is likely what we all envisioned before the season started; when we realized all these all-NBA caliber players were going to play together on the same roster. Mike D’Antoni has shifted the emphasis and has this team looking better (albeit in a larger sample) than Mike Brown did through camp and those first five games.

Who knows if Brown ever would have gotten the team to this place. With his emphasis on the Princeton rather than letting Nash be Nash, I have my doubts. When combined with some of his early season personnel decisions regarding rotations and player groupings, my doubts grow. But it is interesting that the offensive style we see on the court now is probably very much what Brown had planned when he watched film and diagrammed plays.

Maybe it just took a different Mike, and approach, to get the Lakers there.

Darius Soriano

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to Two Mikes, One Formula, Different Implementations

  1. One of the things I like best about this blog is the focus on information and backstory, rather than highlights and impressions. This thread is an example of just this type of writing.

    Mike Brown is not a bad coach and I thank you Darius for pointing out that both MB and MDA were trying to get to the same point, but each had a slightly different process. MB, seemingly, required more thought than spontaneity, while MDA has more flexibility in fitting in to the personalities of his players. This observation is not exactly what would have been made last year at this time.

    I, personally, think the development of minor players will turn out to be the key to success this year. This is because of both injury and our depth issues. This is where leaving MWP coming off the bench is a stroke of genius. MWP is a better leader than Pau and what the second unit needs is a leader. MWP is buried behind both Nash and Kobe on the first unit.


  2. I have to think that Mike Brown is wondering where it all went wrong for him.

    I assume this is rhetorical, but Brown’s problems were :
    1. Misusing personnel
    2. Not having Nash
    3. Not commanding the respect of the players (based on rumor)
    4. The fact that people expected this team to be dominant, and it was not only not dominant, it was bad. Plus it’s the Lakers.
    5. Pau’s and Howard’s physical issues.

    But the biggest issue is #2; as noted at the time, the drop-off from Nash to Duhon and Morris is so massive that it would be hard for any coach to plan around it.


  3. I think that last full paragraph in this post contains the real issue in coaching difference. While the system that Brown put in place was producing offensive results and would have only gotten better on that end, I don’t hink Brown has the vision required to tweak the system to maximize the team. As you have said, the star players, players as great as KB, Pau, DH, Nash and a conditioned Ron would have been fine. The rest of the team needed to be put in a position to succeed on both sides of the ball.

    Key changes by MDA- I think the biggest changes implemented have been to shift Ron’s minutes, so some come at the 4, and that he has him coming off the bench. Keeping Morris engaged and learning is going to pay dividends. The kid can be something like a Jordan Farmar for this team, but with better size and instincts on defense. Kobe playing at the 3 has also been a huge shift that permits guys like Meeks, Morris, and eventually Blake, a chance to contribute while either Kobe or Nash are on the court helping to draw attention and create for them.

    Against teams like the Clippers and OKC and the Spurs, the Lakers will need to keep Kobe from having to cover guys like Westbrook, Paul (and Bledsoe) and Parker. Frankly, CP3 would still be trouble for him and Westbrook impossible for Kobe to cover these days. Morris won’t stop any of these guys, but given time to be a major part of the D, he has a chance to be useful against PGs we are likely to see in the playoffs. Heck Conley is a handfull. We need Morris. Matchups will dictate who Ron and Kobe cover between PFs, SFs and SG. One thing I thought really interesting from an interview LO had with Ralph Lawler on the Clippers Propaganda Network , he said, “I think of my position as what I can defend”. Under this paradigm, Ron is a PF/SF/SG. Nash is a PG/SG (especially if those SGs are Kevin Martin or Sefalosha). Kobe is a PG/SG/SF. Ironically, I think D’Antoni’s willingness to adapt defensive positions has opened a ton of options that, the defense first, Brown was not going to try. It’s been interesting to see what has remained the same even with this more radical approach.


  4. Interesting parallel. Yet as many said at the time of MB’s firing, the offense was not the problem. I would appreciate some thoughts on the nuances of the defense and a comparison between the two strategies there.


  5. Damn good article Darius.


  6. Nice one, Darius!

    Imagine what this team would be like if we still had Barnes…damn!


  7. Given MB’s control issues – as much as he paid homage to Nashes skills – there would still be too much micro managing going on, particularly late game and you woudn’t be seeing the same Nash that you do now – regardless if they ran similar sets. Also its pretty clear that Brown would not allow players to play as loose as MDA -Barnes as alluded to that as have other guys about being on a short leash -which given that some bench players will need to step up their game for this team to succeeed – need to know that their coach isn’t going to pull them for one or two missed shots.


  8. There is a reason that Barnes is doing what he is doing for the first time in years. He has been an effective, if numb-skullish, player but this Clippers team is a championship caliber version of that GS Warriors team that beat the top-seeded Mavs.

    Obviously CP3 is a much better Baron. Tough Juice, Bledsoe, and Green are an approximation of the many headed multi-skilled swigmen that came in the form of Richardson and Jackson. Crawford is Monta. D’Andre is a more athletic Biedrins. Barnes is a more mature Barnes. This is the sort of team that Barnes is designed for. What makes the Clippers a championship contender while the Dubs were lucky to get out of the first round? Chris Paul is worlds better then Baron at his best (Baron was their best player). He is a better shooter, better passer, a better leader, a better decision maker… he’s just an all-time great PG. The other difference is that Dubs had nothing like Blake Griffin (Who is probably also better then Baron was). He is not only a top level PF in the half-court but he has become a much better defender. Couple that with his athletic ability matching that Nellie Ball style, he a perfect player to fit this team. Not to mention LO… Again, how many times did we hear about Nellie wanting to trade for LO? I would love for Nellie to be brought in during the playoffs to just comment on what he is seeing when the Clippers play. ABC pays the bar tab.

    As a basketball fan, seeing this Clippers team is just amazing. Obviously, as a Lakers fan it’s a bit hard to take and the emotional attachment I have for LO (and Turiaf to a lessar degree) makes their success particularly complicated. I loved that We Believe team. So much fun, that run. Seeing this Clippers team somehow meld that positional revolution that Nellie Ball started (and which D’Antoni had a big part in pushing in his own way) and how it’s working on a team that has players that exemplify their position is ironic. I suppose Blake could be a 3, but not really, considering his current range. Blake is a power forward. CP3 is a Point God. He is everything you want out of a point guard at the highest possible level. He is why this team is not limited to Nellie Ball and can still beat you in the half-court without resorting to Hero Ball. It’s easy to see now, but dang that team is amazing and it’s success is partly owed to Nellie Ball.

    Would Barnes have been this Barnes on a more traditional team? I doubt it. I suppose the Lakers now have their positional revolution aspect. Maybe he’d work on today’s Lakers. The Clippers though. they are perfect for him.


  9. Excellent view Darius. But there are some questionable thoughts.

    Beating teams like Washington, Philly, Portland etc is far from a turn around. A very home heavy schedule against mostly under .500 teams is not a big positive. Going 10 and 10 with as you say “The best starting talent he has ever had” is not a ringing endorsement of Mike D. This is the Lakers with 4 prior all-stars and a $100 plus million payroll!

    Have we sunk so that we are now satisfied to be a .500 8th seed. team? Show me a win aganist OKC, Memphis, Spurs, CLIPPERS,
    Heat. The only win merit was the Knicks who are in a down slide and may have not been fully prepared and rested.

    Firing Brown was the right move as players were unhappy even last year(see Barnes, Andrew, Metta comments). But the jury is still way out on MD. Until they win on the road, beat top tier teams, sit in the 4
    or 5 seed and don’t look dazed and confused on defense I am concerned. As a long time fan I cannot consider a change in approach has ” gotten the team there”. .500 records are a lost
    season for a team of Kibe, Nash, Pau and Dwight.

    Yes my glass is half empty but that’s what .500 means to me as a spoiled fan.


  10. The clearest example of MDA’s superiority to Brown is the short amount of time it took him to realize Jamison is no longer a rotation player in the NBA. MDA is playing his best players and figuring out a way to tailor the system to them. In the NBA it’s about your strongest and weakest links before all else. Getting a back up Pg at the deadline is the final piece. Of course the most important peg is again that strongest link in Howard. If he recovers from back surgwey after the All Star break the Lakers will be the title favorites.


  11. The Clippers are having a phenomenal year and as a fan of SoCal basketball it’s great to see them garnering respect. Though I am a bit dubious about the possibility of this team making it to the finals this year because no one on this team has played substantial minutes on a team with a target on their back save for Lamar Odom. This year is a growing year for the Clippers. They are similar to the Heat prior to winning it all and the Thunder whom we have yet to see descend to a championship. Is this the year of the Thunder or is this the year of the Clippers? Time will tell. The Clippers may have peaked too soon. Their 2nd and 3rd year players may not have the mental preparation to play at a high level the full schedule and post season. Add to the additional media time that is required and it may be too much for this neophyte championship contending team.

    On the other hand, the Lakers can continue to improve in terms of healthy, familiarity with each other and in becoming cohesive on their offense and defense by the playoffs, regardless of post-season position.

    For the record, my money is on Kobe, Nash, Dwight, Pau and Metta for a championship run. Let’s go Lakers!!!!!!!!!!!!


  12. I still say we get a backup PG and SF then we’d be right there back in the mix.

    Could Jamison be effective as a backup SF?


  13. Great article. The princeton tailored the offense around the bigs both pau and dwight were effective in seperate games and lakers controlled the boards. It’s also a better offense suited for the playoffs and the roster honestly. D’Antoni’s offense is tailored for the guards mostly. But the offense was never the problem the turnovers would’ve gone down, as mentioned above, with nash’s return and more time getting familiar with the princeton. The defense is what’s failing the lakers and a shift in offensive philosophy hasn’t changed that.


  14. What spoiled fans need to realize is that you can only play the schedule as it sits. Denigrating MDAs record for only now being 500 despite pau missing 8 games under MDA, Nash only being back for 4, and Howard being only 75 percent (and admittedly physically terrible in back to backs) is assinine. The team just won 6 out of 7 (3-1 with all starters playing for the first time under MDA) with 2 quality wins over NY and GS – yet you then say that the Knicks win sorta doesn’t count because they’re now playing poorly because of injuries? Using the logic of spoiled fans that nothing the Lakers do counts until they beat elite teams – the Clippers 17 game win streak then doesn’t count for anything either – as they’ve only played 4 teams w winning records (utah, chicago, denver, wolves) and zero elite teams at all. In fact, since clips have been feasting mainly on mediocre/worse teams, your logic pretty much dictates that the Clippers are far from elite themselves.

    Is the jury still out on MDA? Of course – he’s only had 4 games w a full starting lineup, no training camp, and all the other garbage that came before. He still has to prove he can improve this teams defence once Howard is fully healthy – and try and get consistent production from what would be considered a mediocre bench at best amongst “elite” teams. To consider 15-15 record on the upswing as dismal w/o taking into consideration any context whatsoever doesn’t make one a spoiled fan – it makes one an irrational victim of unrealistic expectations.


  15. I feel like maybe Mike Brown was dealt a bad hand but that comes with the territory. While the team was recovering from injuries, the preseason record was not acceptable. This team had a “flip the switch” mentality from the gate but didn’t put the work in necessary to make it work.

    Combine the wacky rotations of putting Jamison in at the 3 (what?) and not knowing which players will play game to game and adding that Mike Brown never made timely adjustments it just was a major failure.

    Offensively, the princeton offense was ridiculous: a series of handoffs, ball reversals and reads which are okay but the Lakers weren’t looking to even shoot until 8 left on the shot clock. I felt like he was going to be another Terry Porter with Steve Nash which is to basically micromanage him.

    Defensively they were okay given the roster but they didn’t emphasize it in training camp and it showed. Last year, the Lakers looked good on defense because they played people that were defensively oriented like McRoberts and Ebanks and Barnes that were energy guys. This year he didn’t have those type of players that could do that except for Ebanks who is still either very raw or just not that great a player.


  16. MDA had a fit earlier this week when a reporter asked him about other teams using his “small ball” concepts and MDA went off about it being “skill ball” – not small. Aside from Howard – the other 4 players on the flr (Ron included) can pretty much do everything – that’s why its a mistake to think that the offense is strictly based on speed/small play ala Nellie ball – which is a different animal than even MDA’s original SSOL implementation.
    The only guard orientation currently is that you have the best offensive pg in the league running it and making all primary decisions what to run – and your 2/3 is getting the majority of the touches – which considering those two are the best offensive players on the team – is the way it should be. Yes, princeton can be good in spreading the flr/equality of touches etc… But in no way does it take advantage of the specific true talents of the roster – even Pete Carril who invented it, had some skepticism about it working here because it restrains players individual exemplery skills somewhat . The offence MDA is running is getting closer to what he ran USA bball – still high tempo if possible, but maximizing individual skill sets w/ in a team concept. Now that Pau is becoming a bit more comfortable playing away from the hoop, we’re starting to how all these skilled players can work together and move around ala the princeton and share the ball – while playing to strengths and taking advantages of mismatches/strong play.

    What I will give Mike Brown credit for is inadvertently solving MDAs issue w having two post players. By using the horns setup – MDA can both go to Howard or Pau equally – but more importantly, because they both start high it frees the post area for moves/cuts/screens/ dribble penetration by both Nash/Kobe. Horns cleans up that key area and drags help defenders out and away – plus makes it easier for either of the bigs to set screens up high on Nash. If MDA had this option in Phoenix, it wouldve solved so many late game execution/set problems that they had against SA. Credit to MB for installing it in the first place – and to MDA for keeping MB’s staff who prob had a good deal of influence getting him to consider mixing it into his late game plays. Honestly, the last 5 mins of the game where they set up that way has become must watch tv just to see how many options they can run off that.


  17. @form – jamisons too slow and doesn’t have the handle for it. People think he can play outside well but that’s because in Washington under Eddie Jordan, him, caron, and arenas all had free rein to shoot whenever/from wherever. Jamison has a weirdly effective post game and scores well off catching pass on the move to the hoop, and is a decent spot up 3pt threat – but he can’t create or get to the hoop via dribble once past 10-15 feet.


  18. Where it went wrong for Brown? He was the first of the two Mikes. If MD had been our coach last year, we do not know what the results would have been, but it is not unreasonable to conclude that the results would have been similar (we had a talent issue). Further, I do not think we would be too far from where we are, had MD been the coach the entire time, this year. That said, what would be different is the perspective as Ken referred to above. A 500 team at this point in the season, and everyone would have been calling for a coaching change, had there not been one already. We were supposed to win a title and the injury story probably would not have worked for the first Mike (whoever that was). Whoever took over for the 2011-2012 season (MB’s first), would probably not have been a favorite to start the 2013-2014 season. Since MD has the benefit of being the second Mike, he has better job security : )
    Happy New Year everyone !


  19. I can’t cut a guy any slack when he pushes an offense that minimizes Steve Nash’s freedom and refuses to play the team’s best shooter and most energetic reserve. This team still has problems, but Mike Brown was one of the biggest.


  20. @robert – I really want to agree w you lol as I actually like Mike Brwon and wanted to see him succeed/evolve – and you’re right – MDA does get some leeway by being the second guy in – as well it should be and would be for Mike Brown if he had stepped into the same mess that MDA walked into w a discomboulated team/injuries etc… And in fairness to Mike Brown, his record here won’t look so terrible given time/space/circumstances.

    That being said, I don’t see MDA going thru a winless preseason or 1-5 to start the year if he has a full training camp w this team. It was one thing to put in a new system, new major players, then deal w injuries etc… But not only were the Lakers losing – but they were losing ugly as well asthetically – and that isn’t how Buss sr/jr wanted to play. Nash isn’t a coach killer – but Pho front office def listend and watched as he struggled w the same restrainment issues under Terry Porter that MB didn’t look like he was going to avoid. Woulda been a waste of Nashes talent for MB to stay. If you just want a pg to pass the ball, go set screens, play d, bring ball up the court then resign dfish or ben udrih, ridnour, etc… But don’t bring in a true floor general to only turn him into steve kerr. Lakers just weren’t/couldnt gonna be that grind it out/post first team that MB thought he had w Kobe and Nash out there. Plus – I think Howards been pretty exposed offensively as well as to how much his offensive game is a by product of his athleticism and not skill like Pau’s. A full season of watching the Lakers trying use to Howard as a post up threat – blech.


  21. I knew that Mike Brown was in trouble when he in effect made the statemt that he expected to see the results of the Princeton taking hold by January. He forgot where he was coaching. LA does not have the most patient fanbase.

    Happy New Year one and all!


  22. How to turn mobile mode back on in iPhone?


  23. @ Jerke – well, good try. Correct at least that it’s not the Clipper’s 17 game winning streak that makes them elite. Try this on for size:

    1) They have the best record in the league.
    2) They are the only team in the league in the Top 5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency
    3) They have the highest point differential over other teams of any team in the league
    4) They have 2 wins over San Antonio, and wins over Memphis and Miami. Not to mention the Lakers.

    That elite enough for you???


  24. @jonm – reread what i wrote – my remarks were directed at keno aka spoiledfan logic and comments, that by his logic the Clippers weren’t elite themselves based on the streak and who they played in it. At no point do i make the argument that the clippers aren’t elite myself.


  25. Jerke

    Think you might have confused my post. I was only referring to Lakers. Clippers play has been beyond great. They have crushed all comers and as hard as it is to say they are the best, deepest team in the West right now. Best bench in NBA with best point guard and 2nd best PF is tough to beat. Hoping Friday we end this amazing streak.


  26. Darius, interesting take on the two Mike’s and their approaches to the Lakers’ offence. Just one correction for you (albeit, a large one).

    The set that MDA has used successfully making Pau the passer and Steve the screener is actually called “Elbow.” The ball is entered at one of the elbows (usually to Pau) and Steve Nash initiates a cut either strong side, middle or to the weak side: that would be the action. That cut results in a weak side double screen, a screen across for flex action, or potentially a back screen for the big. The two bigs can also run a pick and roll action for each other from the elbow.

    A “Horns” set involves the two bigs setting up at the elbows extended (usually out towards the three point line) and being in a position to set a screen for the ball handler. The ball handler then chooses his side which initiates a roll to the hoop, a pop or another down screen by the big on the weak side. “Horns” always involves an on-the-ball screen.

    Hope that helps.


  27. That being said – streaks don’t count for much anyways, especially ones in Dec against a mediocre schedule. Spurs won 20 straight last April going into and including the playoffs – before the thunder only went on a 4 game streak and swept them out of the playoffs. Only “streak” that matters is being the quickest to 16 wins out of 28 in late April/May/June.

    Are the Clips a legit team? Sure – but when you look at the schedule they’re playing teams that have an avergae .420 record over the last ten games and about that for the entire streak. but you can’t blame them for that nor for the Lakers who they’ve played an won over recently.

    Was also pointed out above that its early in the season – so yeah, i’d like to see how the Clippers do second time thru everyone. That being said – as you point out – point differential is a better indicator long term of how good a team is – and the Clips is a very healthy 10 which is number 1 – which means at least given their schedule they’ve been taking care of business and crushing the teams they should. The Lakers are ranked 7th which given the inconsistency/injuries still indicates a dangerous team when it gets its act together. Clips record is also indicative of great, consistent bench play, again which is great for reg season – but when it comes to the playoffs, those 7-10 guys aren’t going to be helping as much in a reduced role. It can be argued that there are other teams w stronger starting 5s that will give Clips probs. Are they a good team – sure, just some people are rushing to coronate them already when Dec isn’t even over.

    Dallas ran up 67 wins 06-07 – then lost in 6 to GS in the first round. Reg season success doesn’t mean anything unless you win in the playoffs. Clips next 4 games include two back to backs (Den/GS, LA/GS) – and none of those should be easy games. If not before, it would be nice to see the Lakers end it “on the road” on Fri. Those must be weird away games for Laker players.


  28. @ Henry Steele December 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm, Thanks for the ‘Horns’ explanation.

    Happy New Year FB&G…


  29. One Major difference between Mike A(ntoni) and Mike B(rown) is that Mike A actually lets you “play” basketball instead of “think” basketball. Thats where most of his criticism for Mike B came from because he wanted players to “think” too much about how to “play” instead of letting the play think for itself.


  30. One thing that’s good to point out is how Bernie was 4-1 is that he just didn’t coach that team. He let them play. He let Kobe create and etc instead of having too much of a “system” as to who shoots where. In that way, you let the instincts take over instead of too much analysis. Some players do not like thinking too much. Alot of players do not like thinking too much.

    Mike D’ Antoni knows how to manage his personnel. It shows from the way he has handled his rotations, how he has gotten the efficiency of Meeks and Hill (whom he supposedly hates) and now slowly integrating Gasol (I still believe trading him is the best way to go) into the offense.

    Mike Brown wanted his system followed. He made this persona which he wanted the players to adhere to instead of them being themselves. He forgot that the best players in the world also have the best instincts, as much as basketball has a structure, its the players being themselves that create the most effective results.


  31. Henry Steele,
    I’ve reached out to a few folks — coaches and others who cover the NBA — and they’ve all agreed with the way I’ved used HORNS in this post. So, while I appreciate the feedback, I’m also sticking with what I wrote as being correct. For what it’s worth, the Lakers actually have a set they call elbow, we did a breakdown on it here earlier this season. Here is an example of it. As you can see right at the start, Darius Morris actually calls out the play by holding out his elbow and pointing to it.


  32. Darius

    Henry Steele was a member of congress back in 1890 and a top attorney in Boston. The guy is 160 year old. Cut the poor guy some slack!


    Good point. MB coached the team like his son’s high school team. Kobe, Steve and Pau have very high BB IQ’s. Dwight and Metta not so

    Happy New Year to all. Hope 2013 is a lucky number for us Laker fans.


  33. Lakers are 15-15 and can essentially start fresh today. A few games and practices with a full roster should bring better results in 2013. They could go 40-12 the rest of the season and be a 55 win team, assuming everyone’s healthy and a few tweaks to strengthen the bench. Hope this team finally starts clicking so we can have the season we hoped for. Starts tonight with a win. Happy New Year everyone!


  34. Happy New Year!

    Warren still on that bandwagon eh? Gasol is showing FO his worth. I can assure you he will not be traded, not with Bryant endorsing him and Nash coming here on a prequsite that Pau remains.

    What LA still needs is a legit backup PG and SF.


  35. Darius, I’m not trying to nitpick, just trying to help inform. The video you’ve used is an action called “Elbow 2” in Mike DAntoni’s playbook. There are approx. 11 different play calls/variations of “Elbow” in MDA’s offence.

    D. Morris makes the elbow entry pass and sets a down screen for Kobe (which, ironically enough, is a staple of the old Sacramento Kings version of the Princeton). Kobe comes off the screen towards the hoop, looking for the ball. He then makes a little zipper cut up the key to the big with the ball at the elbow. They then initiate a hand-off or a dribble hand-off, which should lead to a jump shot.

    Back in the heyday of the :07 Seconds or Less offence in Phoenix, this play call was a staple for Raja Bell.

    I’m not doubting what others have said re this particular set/action but you’ll have to trust me (without knowing me) about my knowledge of MDA’s offence.

    Ha ha, Keno. Thanks for encouraging words. You have to know that Henry Steele is also a very “famous” movie character. If you know your basketball movies, you should know who I am.


  36. Henry Steele,
    I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying you know the play calls from D’Antoni’s playbook. Okay. I’m saying those sets are *also* basic HORNS sets that a variety of teams run as set plays across the league. Mike Brown ran a lot of them last year too. I don’t doubt your knowledge, but I’m using a general term for the sets while you’re being more specific. I really don’t see an issue with what I wrote.