Lakers: Sloppy beginning
Posted at 12:11 PM

Oct. 30, 2012
I know it's sensible to have a 4-out Princeton offense if you're the Lakers.

Open space means more lanes for Kobe. It means he can cut through the lane on backdoor cuts. It means if he doesn't get a pass then, he can continue to the low post and call for the ball.

It means Steve Nash can have the high post (Dwight Howard?) come run a pick and roll with him. It means Nash could be the driver of this big bus in Lakerland.

But that's probably not going to happen real soon. I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Brown has everyone participate in the Princeton series in a robotic, equal-parts sort of way. No true point guard. No true wing. Just interchangeable parts in an unpredictable offense.

Thing is, is it worth it? With Nash, Kobe and Howard, it would be simple enough to just run pick and roll for Nash with any of the bigs while Kobe peers in from the wing for the kick-out. I'd keep Howard out of the picture, hovering on the block. His role would be strictly as a rubbish man. That's a big enough role for a guy who shoots 3-for-14 from the foul line.

Picking up the trash can be effective for Howard. Uncontested putbacks and dunks. Drawing the defense to the low post and keeping the high post, corners, wings and top open for everyone else.

I thought it would be ideal for Nash to run the P&R with Howard. Alley-oop passes and dunks galore, right? But if defenses are going to maim Howard and simply send him to the foul line, then the P&R with Superman becomes kryptonite. It's too easy to locate the bricklayer and hack him.

So what do the Lakers do from here? Stick to the Princeton series and let chemistry develop? After all, no matter what offense they run, it takes time for new teammates to get used to each other. I just hope they realize that in crunch time, you run what WORKS, not what would be a dream come true.

The more I think about it, the more it seems likely that Kobe won't flourish with Nash as his PG. He might average 22 to 24 ppg. But unless he's consistently on the low post, he's not going to dominate the basketball anymore. That won't happen, of course. If the Princeton series doesn't work out, it'll be back to Kobe dribbling 15 times to launch a 22-footer while Nash stands on the wing idly.

I just don't know if Brown is innovative enough to come up with the right alternate offense. I'd try this for fun: Howard on the high post, hit him with the pass, and have Nash and Kobe run curls around him and past him for backdoor cuts. First guy not open, second guy gets the ball and can run P&R with him.

All else fails, use Gasol as the high post traffic cop. He's a good passer with a great feel for cutters. Then Howard can station himself 5 feet from the basket for the rest of the season — where he probably belongs.

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