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Lakers going to run some Princeton offense next season

Jul 31, 2012, 12:49 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

Three-man and two-man offenses on one side of the court. Motion off the ball. Always keep spacing. Read the defense and react, don’t just run set plays. Create and exploit mismatches.

It sounds like the triangle offense that Kobe Bryant won rings with and clearly missed last year when the Lakers started running more traditional sets under Mike Brown.

It also describes the Princeton offense.

And that is why the Lakers are close to signing Eddie Jordan as an assistant coach, so they can run the Princeton offense next year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports. Kobe wanted to go this direction and apparently the organization is on board. Woj spoke to Kobe about it in London.

“It’s a great offense,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s exactly what we need. It takes us back to being able to play by making reads and reacting to defenses. It takes a great deal of communication, but that’s where we’re at our best: Reading and reacting as opposed to just coming down and calling sets. Calling sets make you vulnerable.

“There’s so many threats, so many options, it’s very tough to defend. Against the type of defenses that teams play nowadays, they load up on one side and are constantly coming with help from the weak side. The Princeton offense makes it very, very tough to lock in on one particular player.”

Those defenses that Kobe is describing are the Tom Thibodeau style defense that Boston and Chicago have had success with and many teams (including the Lakers) have emulated.

It will be interesting to see how the Lakers use a Princeton offense with Steve Nash — his outside shooting certainly helps space the floor in those sets. But not using Nash on some more traditional pick-and-roll sets with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol would be a waste, as would not allowing Nash to push the pace and probe early in the shot clock. He is at his most dangerous in that setting.

But for Kobe and Gasol — two high IQ players — the Princeton offense makes a lot of sense. The Princeton offense demands its bigs be able to pass and be a threat from the elbow or free throw line, and Gasol is those things. Kobe would work off the ball and on curls. And of course, there would be back-door cuts.

Jordan had some success before as a coach in Washington but struggled to get the Sixers to really buy into his offense a couple years ago. However, that roster was a poor fit for what he wanted to do. The Lakers roster is a much better fit.

My guess is we will see a hybrid, with the Lakers running Princeton at times but not every time down the court, or that they will be able to attack for the first 10 seconds of the clock before settling into the offense.

The Princeton offense is not some new gimmick or college offense — this is essentially what the ‘60s Celtics ran. It works. It can win. And it might not be Showtime but it could be a good fit for the Lakers.

  1. camnellum12 - Jul 31, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Yes, this is exactly what Kobe, especially Pau, needs. Kurt, you’re right, the Lakers still needs to run a chunk of P&R, because he’ll destroy the NBA with the Lakers trees. But this is where Bynum needed to stay with Kareem, because he’s a poor outlet passer and needs to learn how to pass out of the double. If Bynum has any chance of remaining a Laker (which I prefer him over Howard), he needs to learn how to make his teammates better and become a willing passer.

    PS I find it very ironic that the Lakers are using the 60′s Celtics offense.

  2. 00maltliquor - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Fuuuuuuuh…

    So why have Nash now? I’m in between on this move. On one hand this would be great for the team, as boring as it is to watch. But on the other it would take away from the magic Nash would bring. I mean, I’ll take boring and rings over excitment and 2-and-out 101 times out of 100, but damn man, just as soon as I was getting excited to watch a free flowing, Nash-led Laker offense with a PG who can dish out 10+ dimes a night on average…smh(??).

    • loungefly74 - Jul 31, 2012 at 8:32 PM

      i think we will be just fine. like the article suggested, the Lakers are probably the smartest team…(maybe the spurs as well)…but we can adjust and react.

  3. BigBeachBall - Jul 31, 2012 at 5:42 AM

    from “triangle offense” to “princeton offense”

    you know kobe will find a new name for princeton offense…. real quick.
    ivy league and NBA mix like oil and water.

  4. letangswitchedtoheadandshoulders - Jul 31, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    so does it end with an iso on kobe and a fadeaway?

  5. isujames - Jul 31, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    old as $hit offense for a old as $hit team.

  6. flyerscup2010 - Jul 31, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    so Eddie Jordan already washed out of Rutgers then? What are the Lakers THINKING?

  7. 24thesho - Jul 31, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    They should run out that coach.

  8. aboogy123456 - Jul 31, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I like the idea of the lakers going to more of a react to the defense type of offense. They have so many weapons and so there is always going to be a matchup they can exploit. Nash is more of a half court break it down type point guard than people realize, and with him and Kobe in the backcourt, they have the smartest backcourt in the league. If the Lakers take away the sets they did last year and become more of a thinking team then I like this a lot, and think it is still taking advantage of having Nash.

  9. imforbigblue - Jul 31, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Don’t kid yourself it’s called give Mr. Me the ball and let me take 30 shots a game and screw the rest of you offense

    • skids003 - Aug 1, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      I agree bigblue, whatever offense they run will come to a halt when he gets the ball. It will be the me shoot, you offensive rebound if you want any shots offense.

  10. paulhargis53 - Aug 2, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Too bad this smarts don’t rub off on a majority of their fans, eh laker?

    You are such a doofus.

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