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Carril thinks the Lakers have pieces to run Princeton offense

Aug 31, 2012, 3:58 PM EDT

Pete Carril AP

Pete Carril — the Hall of Fame coach who spent 29 years as the head man at Princeton — is the father of the Princeton offense. He cribbed parts of it from what the Celtics were doing in the 1960s (as Don Nelson did with small ball) but he was the guy that put it together and made it work. It has led to some beautiful basketball.

Not always, though. The offense has flamed out before, and if you need proof you can look at Eddie Jordan’s tenure in Washington. Jordan is a Carril disciple but he could not get the Wizards players to buy in.

Jordan will soon officially be a Lakers assistant. So will the Princeton offense work in Los Angeles, where the Lakers will run a hybrid version of it next season? Carril told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated he thinks it should.

I imagine that if the [Lakers] guys want to do it, and [the coaches] can convince them that it’d better for them, I think they’ll do it. They have the right ingredients, all the passers. They have really good passers there. The only one I don’t really know much about as a passer is Howard. But [Pau] Gasol can pass and he can shoot, and of course Bryant and Nash can shoot, and whatever they call him now [Metta World Peace], I know he can pass. It all depends on Howard, and then what kind of bench they have…

Generally speaking, that offense doesn’t work when two things are prevalent. One is when they treat it like a robotic thing. And the other is when they don’t want to do it.

I love that he doesn’t know World Peace’s name. Despite working with Artest in Sacramento.

The Lakers will want to do it, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol asked for it. After years in the triangle they like an offense where no plays are called and what cuts and passes you make depend on how the defense adjusts its coverage. They will not be robotic about it. Steve Nash will buy in. Dwight Howard will buy in. It may take a little while for the offense to really click (especially with Howard missing training camp due to his back), but the Lakers should make it work.

Like a lot of observers, Carril thinks this could be good for Kobe Bryant.

What I told Eddie is that it might work for this team for several reasons. One is that you’re going to get easy shots for Kobe Bryant. And over the last several years, I’ve seen where his shots have become harder and harder to get. He’s getting older and more tired, so I’d like to see whether they can get him some easy shots. He’s going to make them.

But you have to set picks to do that, whether you set a pick with Gasol or whoever it is, you’re going to get a free shot and they’re going to find out — the way I did — that the guy who sets the pick, after a while, is going to be more open than the guy that he set the pick for. They’ve got shooters, they’ve got passers, so they can run that. Whether they want to do it? I think Eddie can show them how to do it so it’s not robotic, and it could be effective.

To help you better understand what we are talking about, this video from Coach Nick at is a fantastic explanation of how the basic Princeton offense can leave opposing teams with impossible choices against the Lakers. Plus, the faces used on the graphic are the best ever.

  1. sellahh - Aug 31, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    It’s pretty obvious that the Lakers are perfectly suited for running this kind of offense. Normal understanding of an offense is like a certain set play. But defenses don’t always act the same no matter what and this offense is only like a set of guidances, tips but not neccesarily set plays. This is very similar to what triangle offense was and I think every team in the league should run this offense – as in adjust to what your opponent is doing as opposed to forcefully sticking to one particular concept. I have great feelings about this season for my beloved Lakers.
    Do I need to mention Pau and Kobe have already ran a very similar kind of offense before? They’re both great, if not willing, passers (Kobe :).

    • sellahh - Aug 31, 2012 at 4:22 PM

      By the way, I need to say I hate this video because – to me – it deflates the whole concept of triangle/Princeton offense. Their main points are offball movement and, the most of all, having all the players take part. In this video all you have is a set play to a set play to a set play. ‘Pau sets a screen, runs here or there, Kobe and Dwight play a 2-man game’? That won’t work at all cause it’s so easy to adjust to. You might win a game using such strat, you might win 10. But I don’t think you can win a chip doing it the same every time.

      • cosanostra71 - Aug 31, 2012 at 5:18 PM

        obviously the offense is more complex than that but this video is really only touching on the basic concepts in an attempt to simplify for the average fan. I think it does a good job of that, and covering the philosophy behind this offense.

      • sellahh - Aug 31, 2012 at 5:40 PM

        You’re right to an extent sir – the video does a good job of simplyfing it for a casual fan, but the thing is, this offense is anything but simple and basic. It’s all about feeling, instinct and well, things you can’t teach or really make simple. It’s all about reading and reacting and that’s not what this video shows. Does the video involve any defenders? If anything, it should be showing the defensive side as well and then how you make choices of 1a, 1b up to 1e because there are always 5 offensive players on the floor when you have the ball. I’ve heard the word Artest once through a 7-minute video. That’s not how you win titles, not 2-on-5, not 4-on-5. Look at Miami.
        Look how coach Nick mostly shows Dwight in the lowpost when the offensive posession is about to be over and then how he talks about the addition of Dwight helping out the Lakers on defense. Again, Miami will exploit to hell because you’re not convincing me Dwight can outrun Wade and Lebron in order to block their shot.

      • cosanostra71 - Aug 31, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        I don’t disagree, but I think my point is- the offense in the video is only a very small part of what the Lakers will be doing this year. If the Lakers only run what is in this video, yes, they will not do very well. But I’m sure there is much more to what they will be doing this year than just what is shown in this video.

  2. timpaz - Aug 31, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    In order for this offense to work it takes patience and choice of good shots, don’t see much of that from Kobe or Gasol.

    • cosanostra71 - Aug 31, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      Yes, they really struggled with that when they were running the triangle offense on the way to two championships.

  3. paulhargis53 - Aug 31, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Sellah: Don’t confuse these Laker fans with facts. They don’t want to hear anything other than the Lakers win.

    It’s pretty pathetic that they are such over the top homers that you can’t have a decent debate with any of them.

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 1, 2012 at 12:00 AM

      I don’t think there is anything about my statements that registers as ridiculous. I agree, if the Lakers offense is that simplistic, they would struggle to make the playoffs, let alone the championship series. I don’t see how it is “over the top homer” to state that the Lakers’ offense will likely be more complex than what is presented in that 7 minute video. NBA offenses have hundreds of plays and sets. You can’t boil a whole offense into an easy to view YouTube video.

  4. tashkalucy - Aug 31, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Great theory.

    Mike Brown is still the head coach, right?

  5. chargerdillon - Aug 31, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    Diehard Laker fan here and while I know Laker fans are all idiots and we don’t have any common sense, I’m just going to say I cant wait to see how this team plays…..because I have no idea if it will work and to be honest I just might not.

    Do I think the Lakers have the talent on the paper that should equal an NBA championship finals appearence RIGHT NOW, yes I do. But I don’t see them standing half a chance against the Heat.

    The most underestimated factor in all of basketball is one thing, CHEMISTRY.

    You can put talent together all day and it doesn’t mean crap if it doesnt work together.

    Mark it down right now, diehard Laker fan telling you all, the Heat are going back to back and maybe even more unless a major injury hits one of the big 3.

    Chemistry takes time, the Heat have it, the Lakers do not. This is the world of King James now, you better get with the program. Truth hurts Lakers fans, deal with it

  6. lakerluver - Aug 31, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Princeton offense, Duke offense, UCLA offense….it doesn’t matter, my LAKERS are going to be a thing of beauty!!

  7. lakerluver - Aug 31, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Some of you dudes are freakin crazy!! Does it really matter what offense you run when you have 4 sure fire HOF’ers and 1 borderline HOF’er in your starting lineup?!! Wtf, it’s not rocket science here!!! Are you trying to suggest that if the LAKERS had run a different offense during the Shaq/Kobe 3peat they wouldn’t have won?!! These dudes have been playing basketball since they were toddlers. Furthermore, to keep on talking about Mike Brown is also stupid. If the LAKERS win you same clowns that say they can’t win because of Brown will say they won in spite of the him!! You’re probably the same dudes that said Phil Jackson didn’t do anything and “any” coach could’ve won with MJ, Pippen, Rodman, Shaq, Pau and Kobe. Response? Im sure “someone” can’t type his reply fast enough!!

  8. sellahh - Sep 1, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    great job deleting and reshuffling the order of my posts you guys out there, i guess sb must of been mad he couldnt understand squat

  9. omniusprime - Sep 1, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I’m all for Clueless Clown Brown to bring some kind of offense to the Lakers. Last year was a disaster as Clown Brown didn’t have a clue about what to do on offense, just give Kobe the ball so he could shoot too much.

    With the addition of Nash and Howard the new nickname for the Lakers must be “The Fab Five”. No other team has the star quality in it’s starting lineup that the new Fab Five Lakers have. Eat your hearts out fans of other teams. Go Lakers!

  10. frankyvito - Sep 1, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    They could have, I don’t know, hired Adelman last year & this wouldn’t have been an issue now. But it could end up being a blessing in disguise that they hired either the worst or second worst coach in the league (the other is in LA also.) The way Kupchach brilliantly put this together milk dud never even has to touch the offense while EJ runs the offense Adelman would’ve run. And Brown can do the one thing he knows to coach. Pick n roll D. But this time with a center with the quickness to show/hedge on it. Dangerous. Lucky them.

  11. lakerluver - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Man, you contradict yourself terribly. On one hand you say Mitch was brilliant in making the deals he made. But on the other hand you question the coaching ability of Brown. If you’re questioning Brown aren’t you also questioning the man who hired him? Hasn’t Mitch proved he knows what he’s doing?! If Buss and Mitch think Brown is a coach good enough to lead the LAKERS to a title, I BELIEVE THEM.

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