Last season, Lakers head coach Mike Brown opted to go with the “Kobe System” while his team was still figuring out the then-new offense. It didn’t quite work out smoothly, as Kobe scored 40 or more points in the first four games and the Lakers split those contests.
The trend continued as Kobe was the sole facilitator for the Lakers, and the team struggled offensively all season.
This off-season, coach Brown, Bryant, and new assistant coach Eddie Jordan sat down and discussed how the Princeton Offense would help the team. This idea came about before Steve Nash–and Dwight Howard–joined the team, however.
It was an idea to get away from set plays and pick-and-rolls and enter into an offense that requires reading and reacting–something Kobe Bryant and all of his championship teams have utilized on their way to championships. It was also an idea that would allow Pau Gasol to utilize all of his skills: shooting, posting up, passing, a high basketball IQ, etc.
I broke down the pros and cons of this over the summer, and explained that the biggest threat this offense posed would be limiting Steve Nash. I stipulated that in order for the Lakers to succeed, they needed to allow Steve Nash to be himself and create easy shots for his teammates and himself.
Tuesday night’s game proved to be the opposite of that, as the Lakers were defeated by the Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks, 99-91.
Then, the Lakers once again fell to their opponent on Wednesday night; losing to the Portland Trail Blazers, 116-106.
Mike Brown seemed to be stuck on the read-and-react style of offense during his TV interviews on Tuesday, and explained it would be a grind offensively at first.
That much is true, as it appears to be an arduous process until the finished product is finally put on display.
However, even if the new offensive system works to perfection, it should not be used 100 percent of the time, in my opinion–and especially not right now.
The system should be in place for grind-it-out games and as a go-to weapon during the playoffs, where games tend to slow down for both teams playing. It definitely needs to be learned as soon as possible, but it should also not be the sole offense, either.
Well, for one, the Lakers have Steve Nash; one of the greatest point guards of all time.
Secondly, the offense is nowhere close to being a finished product, and the regular season is here. Wins and losses count. The Lakers need to do whatever they have to in order to put notches in the “W” column.
Just as Mike Brown attempted to utilize Kobe Bryant last season, he more glaringly needs to utilize Steve Nash.
The reason Lakers management brought in Steve Nash was to bring a little bit of “Showtime” back, and to make things easier for everyone.
However, solely trying to utilize this offensive system is not making things easier for anyone.
Being able to get easy baskets in transition and semi-transition have been a big problem for the Lakers for the last three seasons–even during the 2010 season in which they won the championship.
Simply put, Steve Nash has the ability to fix all of that.
No, the Lakers are not the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Miami Heat and won’t be a superior transition team by any means. Those types of teams have killed the Lakers in the recent past, but Nash can at least help the Lakers dish out a fraction of that to opponents.
The stars are going to get their numbers: Pau Gasol thrived in the offense on Tuesday night with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists; Kobe Bryant scored 22 points on an impressive 11-of-14 from the field (with one rebound and zero assists); and Dwight Howard put up 19 points (on 8-for-12 shooting from the field) and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Steve Nash, however, put up just seven points and dished out four assists in 34 minutes of play. The rest of the team put in just 20 points.
On Wednesday, once again the starters put up big numbers as Dwight Howard dropped in 33 points (on 9-14 shooting from the field, and an impressive 15-19 from the free throw line), pulled down 14 rebounds, and dished out five assists; Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, but had six turnovers; and Pau Gasol had 16 points and six rebounds.
Nash scored two points and dished out four assists in 16 minutes of play before sustaining an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game, but appeared to be on pace for an encore of his performance in the previous game. The rest of the team once again didn’t contribute much offensively, scoring just 25 points.
The defense was to blame as well, but I truly believe that will come together relatively quickly with the talent the team has along with the defensive philosophy Mike Brown has.
The offense, which has become a topic of discussion lately, isn’t all bad, however. The Lakers have shot just about 50 percent throughout their first two games. Sure, they also had 24 turnovers on Wednesday, but that’s to be expected when players are learning a new offense and learning how to play with new teammates at the same time.
However, the Lakers attempted 77 shots compared with 85 from the Mavericks on Tuesday, and just 72 compared with 83 for the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
When you have a facilitator of Steve Nash’s caliber, that simply should not happen.
Nash should be encouraged to push the ball up the court and look for easy opportunities before the team enters its intricate offense, first.
The entire TNT crew–Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith–all harped on this, and they’re completely right.
I don’t agree that the Lakers need to completely scrap the Princeton Offense, but they do need to allow their point guard to be just that–a point guard.
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