Top 5 Reasons Why The Lakers Should Avoid A Princeton Offense

  • Mark Evans

After years of running a triangle offense under Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant will have to adapt to a Princeton offense.
credit: blogs.ocweekly.com

The NBA world is buzzing about the 1-3 Los Angeles Lakers, a roster with an unbelievable amount of talent yet is under achieving thus far. That being said, they’ve only played four games. They still have 78 games left to get their act together, and it’s hard to believe that they won’t do just that. They’re flat-out too talented to fall on their face like some people are predicting. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that people were already signing them up as NBA champions.

A lot has been made about head coach Mike Brown and the implementation of a Princeton offense. For those who don’t know, the Princeton is an offensive system that is heavy on motion and activity off the ball, sharp passing, good screens, and an overall sense of teamwork. It works best on teams that have five players who are excel at several offensive parts of the game, and shies away from one-dimensional offensive players.

Teams that run a Princeton offense are generally not as talented as the Lakers. It’s a system that doesn’t require an individual playmaker or someone who can score 30 points on any given night. Which is why it’s strange that the Lakers are running it.

That being said, here are the top five reasons why the Lakers should avoid running a Princeton offense:

1. You have Kobe Bryant

Simply put, Kobe is not a Princeton player. The last few years, Bryant has spent roughly 30% of his possessions in isolation. Do you really think Kobe wants to be setting back screens and cutting to the hoop? Of course not. We know who he is at this point, and it’s an isolation player who needs the ball in his hands. I’m not saying that Kobe isolation is the best offense, because it’s not, but the reality is that Kobe doesn’t fit into a Princeton system.

The Princeton is reliant on sharing the ball, and finding the open player. Which Kobe Bryant does not do.

2. Steve Nash is your point guard

Why would you go get one of the best playmakers and creators in the game only to take the ball out of his hands? Steve Nash is at his best when he has the ball in his hands and is looking to create opportunities for his teammates. So you’re telling me he should be sitting in the corner setting a screen for Metta World Peace to get an open lane to the basket?

This is also evidence of a bigger issue with the Lakers; Nash and Bryant both need the ball in their hands to be at their best. The Princeton relies on movement and floor balance to make plays, and is usually run because there is a lack of an individual creator. The Lakers are wasting Steve Nash’s greatest strength in running the Princeton.

3. Lack of wing athleticism

The Princeton is designed to get looks for players going to the rim, which should be high percentage shots. This is great if you have players who can finish, particularly your wing players that will be doing a lot of the cutting.

I don’t think anyone is scared of Metta World Peace, Jodie Meeks, and Devin Ebanks crashing the rim and finishing in traffic. Their wings lack the athleticism to make defenses honor them attacking the basket, and most of them are spot-up three-point shooters at best.

Dwight Howard’s abilities won’t be optimized in a Princeton offense.
credit: redsarmy.com

4. Their bruising front-line

Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol form the best big man combination in the league, and probably the most diverse. Gasol is actually the perfect Princeton player; he can score near and away from the basket, pass with precision, and sees the floor very well. With two seven footers that are that good, there are very few teams in the league that could have a chance at defending them in the post over 48 minutes. So why not use that to their advantage?

The Lakers need to pound the ball in the post every night to optimize their strength. Taking away shots from Howard and Gasol and redistributing them to World Peace, Ebanks, Meeks, and Steve Blake just doesn’t make sense. Feeding their twin towers puts an enormous amount of pressure on the opposing team; they need to put out a lineup that might not be their best just to stay afloat defensively, and it forces foul trouble. The league is getting small, and if the Lakers can make the Thunder play Kendrick Perkins instead of another shooter, they need to do so. Dwight Howard alone can foul out a lot of big men in the league on any given night, and Gasol is no slouch either. You’re bailing out the defense by not pounding the ball down low.

5. Too many new players

Much like the triangle offense, the Princeton relies on teammates constantly knowing where each other are, and what their next move might be. This isn’t a problem for a team that has been together for a while. It is a problem for a team that added Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, and Jodie Meeks to their rotation over the summer.

It would be tough enough for the team to get accustomed to a more standard offense with all of their moving parts; it’s even harder to learn an offense with players that you haven’t played with. It’s too much to learn on the fly, and to have it perfected by the time the playoffs roll around is not a certainty.

-Mark Evans, Assistant Manager/Editor of Content

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