Lakers’ Run Quick Hitting P&R out of a Princeton Set-Up

Darius Soriano —  December 13, 2015

The Lakers remain one of the lesser offensive teams in the league. A high producing unit or a scoring flurry from one of their several quality offensive players just doesn’t equate to a stable, high performing team. On the whole, the team still ranks 29th in offensive efficiency and while I think, over time, they might be able to climb from that mark, they are what they are offensively.

However, just because the team’s output remains low, it does not mean we cannot get some inspired play. Recently the team has gone away from the Princeton offense more than earlier in the campaign, mixing in more straight P&R sets and even incorporating some Triangle actions into their scheme. The results aren’t always great, but changing things up is a good sign, not just because it helps mix in some variety which can help the team overcome defenses which seem to know what’s coming, but because it shows some flexibility in the coaches — something that hasn’t been too present this season.

But even when the Lakers aren’t diverging from the Princeton entirely, they are showing some more creativity in finding different actions to run out of the general formation of the offense. The below play, from the Spurs game on Friday, is a perfect example of this:

The Lakers start this set in the same two guard front their other Princeton initiations begin with. However, rather than a direct entry to Hibbert to start their “elbow” series or a guard to guard pass from Russell to Williams to start the “chin” series, Russell initiates with a hard dribble to Williams’ side of the floor and executes a dribble hand-off.

This exchange accomplishes two things right away. First is that it gets the top of the Spurs defense moving in ways that aren’t as predictable as the aforementioned “elbow” and “chin” series which lead to a direct pass and then simply cut or screen away actions. Second is that when Russell dribble pitches to Williams, both he and his defender effectively get a partial screen on Danny Green who is defending Williams.

This little bit of space allows Williams a clean catch and some open space to dribble hard to his left with the threat of turning the corner. The beauty of this action, however, comes with Hibbert’s positioning — as Part of the Princeton, the C does a lot of hanging out at the elbow as either a screener out of “chin” or as an initiator out of “elbow” — and the rub screen he’s able to get on Green after Williams goes into his hard dribble. That slight pick gives Williams the space he needs to get off a rhythm jumper, which he knocks down.

As we’ve discussed before with some of the other offensive tweaks the Lakers have flashed during the season, none of this is groundbreaking. Every team in the league uses dribble pitches/hand-offs and then sets up quick P&R’s off of them. Watch the Warriors play and this is a consistent action they incorporate off sideline guard to guard entries that follow with the same side big stepping up to either serve as an option for a ball reversal or to come over and set a pick.

The Lakers, though, have not shown much creativity in their half court sets to this point in the year. Some of this could be the fact they have a lot of young players who have not yet grasped all the nuances and actions which can come out of the Princeton. Some of it may just be the coaches wanting to keep the scheme simple in order to get the ball to their preferred scorers (Kobe, Clarkson, Williams) as often as possible via pin downs and direct P&Rs. This, though, hasn’t worked, as evidenced by the team’s poor offensive rankings.

Moving forward, I hope to see more of the type of action above. Some of this is on Russell (and Huertas — with Clarkson out). Some of it is on the coaches, who should probably emphasize switching things up more than they have to this point in the year. However it happens, though, isn’t as important as long as it does and we start to see it become more of a staple of the team’s sets.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers’ Run Quick Hitting P&R out of a Princeton Set-Up

  1. The Lakers will have a 4 – 29 record heading into 2016.


  2. I have two issues with this play:

    1 – they’re still doing screens in the middle of the floor and the ball handler is moving towards the sideline (reducing his available space to make a read) which leads to…

    2 – there are no other options besides shooting or a pass to the corner.

    However, I recognize the step in the righ direction of changing things and trying some other stuff. I still question Scott’s play design in its entirity.


  3. The Lakers are what they are. So while we are awful, it makes sense to let the losses pile up in hopes of keeping the pick. I mean really, what else is there to do? Play the kids and try to keep the pick is the smart thing to do.

    As for Byron’s meeting today. It makes no sense to relieve him mid stream. Again, this is not purely a coaching issue, its a roster one as well. BS had nothing to do with personnel decisions. Agreed, he’s not the long term solution but as long as he plays the kids and they improve it makes no sense to make a move.

    If Byron is under the gun then Jim and Mitch should be as well. Both intimated success on the floor this year. I’m not a big proponent of making major in-season changes. If possible, I’d wait until the end of the year. Kobe’s retirement provides natural closure on many old chapters and an opportunity to open new ones as well.


  4. Hey Darius, thanks for the analysis. At least we can look at what the Lakers are doing. The play is baby steps but it beats the heck out of running iso’s.


  5. The Lakers will have a 4 – 29 record heading into 2016.

    The Lakers have 9 games left this calendar year. Two of them are winnable: at home against the under performing Bucks and on the road against Denver. The balance are against teams with winning records. Finishing the year 2 – 7 or 1 – 8 is completely possible.

    The silver lining: Ben Simmons is averaging 20 points,15 rebounds and 6 assists a game.


  6. The FO should be thinking about a permanent replacement for Byron. Even if they replace him today it will only be with an interim.

    The Lakers need to bring in a coach that can fully develop the kids and create a positive environment around the team. The new coach also needs to be the face of the franchise since Mitch does not relish the media and Jim/Jeanie make a mess of things when they talk.


  7. -The Lakers offense will improve in time, the ball will move better and they’ll be less standing around watching iso’s on a consistent basis…in about 11 months.

    -What’s the point of a new coach right now?


  8. TempleOfJamesWorthy December 14, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I note the highlight Darius provided of the Lakers offense led to a 20-foot jump shot off of the dribble…in other words, the least-efficient kind of possible shot.

    Perhaps it is not surprising the Lakers are often in games early, when legs (esp. Kobe’s) are fresh, defenses haven’t quite settled in, and 20-foot jump shots fall with regularity.

    Over time, though, the Lakers will need to find a way to get shot attempts at the rim, trips to the free throw line, and wide open 3-point attempts. Perhaps as Randle’s post game develops, DAR starts to penetrate with consistency, and Clarkson learns to be a better distributor well start to see more efficient offense.

    Until then, neither the Lakers scheme nor the personnel seem capable of creating easy shots.


  9. -In regards to Jordan Clarkson, is there any valid reason for the front office not to sign the soon to be restricted free agent? Hoopshype has him listed as the 4th best free agent point guard for 2016. Only behind 6’1 Mike Conley, and reclamation projects Rondo & D-Will. Unless you believe D-Will or Rondo w/b willing to back Russell up at the one and w/b a less expensive signing than Clarkson, why wait?

    -Lakers will only have six players under contract next season for a total of less than $23,200,000. So why not show good faith and sign the kid now? After all, many feel he’s currently the Lakers best player.


  10. Like I have said a few times, IMO the only reason to can Scott is if they think he is actively hurting the three main young guys. If they want him to play the other three (and/or Kelly) then they should just order him to do it.

    As to the next coach, I am guessing that it will be Scott Brooks.


  11. -The Lakers offense will improve in time, the ball will move better and they’ll be less standing around watching iso’s on a consistent basis…in about 11 months.

    Kobe’s USG and 3s have gone way down the last few games, and he has shot 46% from the floor over that time. He was 9/16 against Houston and they lost by 30 anyway. Like a few people pointed out, the Lakers simply can’t stop anybody, and that would be true if Kobe were playing 15 MPG and taking 0 shots.


  12. @BCS,
    They would kill cap space without reason by signing JC now. Likely at a price above market value. They essentially give away flexibility with the cap to sign him now.

    I also consider Scott at this point with his lack of communication, odd rotations, and poor system to be addition by subtraction by firing him. I’d hand the team to Madsen and pursue Walton over the summer. I would not expect miracles but I would consider that better than the status quo.


  13. Whatever they are doing Offensively looks better, alot more movement, about 2 weeks ago just standing around


  14. Regarding clarkson,,, you can combine russell with another point guard so there is alot of options out there


  15. Regarding coach scott,,, you knew they were not thrilled to sign him in the first place, being how long it took to make the decision, so who knows what the plan is, mitch is very good at being unpredictable, you gotta know for sure scott has to go sometime before next year’s free agency in order to lure anyone good to sign