November 17, 2017

As a guy who runs the triangle offense, I have an affinity for all types of system basketball, in particular the triangle’s first cousin the Princeton offense. Developed by Pete Carril at the Ivy League school, it relies on spacing and movement to get the best shot possible. The passer is the trigger man, and every cut and move is based on what the ball handler decides to do with the ball. While many dislike this because it forces players who aren’t comfortable with the ball to handle it, I prefer to think of it as “just straight hoopin.”

Through the first four games, impatient and petulant Laker fans have been outraged at Mike Brown’s use of the Princeton. He hired Eddie Jordan to install it properly, Jordan having played for Carril and implemented it in Philadelphia and Washington. The only thing the coaches are guilt of is not preaching patience loudly enough. While this offense requires a lot of repetition and experience, this is not something you can rush. It would be easier to just run basic pick and roll sets and let Dwight, Nash, Kobe, and Gasol get their own points.

But at its best, the Princeton creates shots for its players, relying on teamwork to get open and get easy shots. THe game is still about taking the best shots you can get on each possession. The Princeton ensures they get those good shots.

Remember: The Lakers are not putting in this system to beat Detroit and Sacramento. They have put this team together to challenge for a championship this year. Because of this, the need to develop the kind of offense that makes it very difficult for the top defensive clubs to shut them down.

Upon closer look at Synergy Sports, we see that for all the criticism the Lakers have taken about their offense, they currently rank 9th in the league in efficiency. Hardly evidence towards a troubling offense.

Lakers Overall Offensive Statistics
Courtesy of Synergy Sports

For our next Laker-centric breakdown, we’ll go over what their most pressing issue is: Defense. While the turnovers on the offensive end have led to run outs for layups and dunks, they are rated even worse on defense at 24th in the league. And this was after playing the woeful Detroit Pistons.

The Lakers Defensive Rankings
Courtesy of Synergy Sports

Specifically, they have been getting beat on Pick and Rolls, when the ball handler keeps the ball and attacks. This is indicative of two things: The Laker big men are hedging on the screen poorly, and the weakside rotational help is not containing nor is it effective.

Lakers Defense By Play Type
Courtesy of Synergy Sports

Stay tuned as we will get to a video breakdown of their defensive lapses. For now, I encourage you to show patience with the offense. The fundamentals are there, they have the makings of some great plays. They simply need time to figure out how best to flex this offense to best fit the mold of their many talents.

Coach Nick

Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown, coached the Triangle Offense at the high school level, and counts Tex Winter and Pete Newell as mentors. For more of our conversation, follow him @BBALLBREAKDOWN.

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  • Coach nick, as maybe one of the few fans of the Princeton offense why do u love and use the triangle instead of the Princeton.

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