The Lakers are winless after their first two games…and also Nash-less due to a bruised left leg.
If you pay any mind to some of the talking heads on television (TNT), the team should ditch the new Princeton offense and push the ball downcourt. Those retired gentlemen slammed the new Laker offensive system saying it’s far too slow. But it isn’t the offense that slows them down, it’s Father Time. We saw a younger LAL squad set scoring highs between 2009-2011 despite running the halfcourt triangle offense.
Increasing the tempo isn’t a cure-all for NBA teams. The Lakers are an older squad and are better suited for an organized system on offense. Quite frankly, the Princeton offense is exactly what the Lakers need. In this writer’s brief playing career at ‘powerhouse’ UC San Diego, we ran this offense because coach decided we couldn’t get our own shots against the competition. This system is built for teams who have an athletic disadvantage, which is exactly what the ‘Lake Show’ was in the backcourt with the aging Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. While Bryant will always be able to get his own shot, it takes him longer these days to get defenders down into his wheelhouse…ideally, the elbow. Steve Nash, meanwhile, can’t get free without a screen being set for him. You saw what Darren Collison did to him on opening night. On one play in the backcourt, he ripped the ball from the former MVP like he was a middle-schooler. Steve watched from the floor as Collison scored all alone. The next night, rookie Damian Lillard made history against Nash before a knee to the leg ended Steve’s night. Every time I look up thi season, #10 is down on the ground.
The ultra-competitive Kobe Bryant, who normally refrains from giving an inch in interviews, had some interesting comments after the loss to Portland. “We’re not the quickest team in the world. A lot of teams have very quick point guards, quick wings. We gotta support each other…be there for each other.” Translation: Steve & I are much slower than our matchups. We need help.”
The Princeton offense is all about relieving pressure, or as Mike Brown says “stress-free offense.” If team’s start to pressure the guards there’s always a backcut counter. Without these cuts and counters I don’t think Steve Nash would ever touch the ball.
On my college team, the rule was either take an open three or a backdoor lay-up…if you launched a long 2-pointer, you were headed to the bench. Clearly this isn’t the same gameplan for Mike Brown and Eddie Jordan. But still, the Laker backcourt needs to find a way to get to the rim more. In their loss on opening night to Dallas, Nash and Bryant didn’t shoot a single free throw. But they definitely gave up enough FT’s, between Steve’s lateral movement and Kobe’s gambling it’s no surprise Dwight Howard fouled out in his debut.
Speaking of Dwight…despite what he did to J.J. Hickson in game 2 (34 points), Howard isn’t the kind of guy who you can just throw it down low to and work the offense around him (a la Rudy Tomjanovich’s Rockets). He needs the rolls and cuts that the Princeton offense presents.
According to Dwight Howard, ”L.A. wasn’t built in a day.”
But how many days will Laker fans everywhere give this team and their brand new shiny TV network?