Skip to content

Why are the Lakers taking the ball out of Steve Nash’s hands?

Oct 13, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

When the Lakers landed Steve Nash, even before Dwight Howard, there was exultation across Lakers Land. The team would no longer need to run everything through Kobe Bryant, wouldn’t struggle getting the ball to the bigs, would have someone to quarterback, coordinate, and execute the offense. Yes, it was going to be a great new time in Hollywood. Then they added Dwight Howard! The best pick and roll point guard in the league according to Synergy Sports last year with the best pick and roll finisher last year according to the same! Genius!

And Mike Brown’s going to pretty much jack that up entirely.

In a wide-ranging piece on the Princeton offense from CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, Steve Nash talked about the changes that he’ll have to make in his game in the Princeton offense Mike Brown is running. Nash is more than happy to do so and supportive, even excited, but things will be different.

It was more than notable that Nash used the term “completely opposite” to describe how the Princeton offense differs from the system he’s thrived in for years.

“We have multiple post players, which I’ve never really played with,” Nash said. “You have the ability to go in a number of different directions, whereas before we really relied on pick-and-rolls. We have pick-and-roll players here, but we also have the ability to go inside or go to Kobe and other guys to score the ball.”

Even in his 17th season, Bryant, 34, remains a scoring beast who needs to be fed in isolation, especially late in the shot clock when all else has failed. And despite all their talent, the Lakers are an older team. The seven-seconds-or-less approach, whereby Nash has spent the bulk of his career wearing down opponents with the dizzying force of numerous possessions, might have tired out the Lakers first. The downside? Nash, who has thrived with the ball in his hands the vast majority of the time, will no longer be the perpetual trigger man.

“I won’t have to make all the decisions,” Nash said. “We can go inside to our big guys and allow them to make a lot of the decisions, and obviously Kobe is still going to be our go-to-guy. In some ways, I won’t have the ball in my hands all the time and I’ll be spotting up and getting open shots, so it’s going to be a little bit different.”

via Lakers’ championship hopes depend on how well things mesh – NBA – CBSSports.com News, Scores, Stats, Fantasy Advice.

Setting aside the fact that the ball is now going into Dwight Howard who will be tasked with passing to backdoor cutters and players swinging for jumpers, which inherently means that the great passer Pau Gasol is now cutting while the great-cutting Dwight Howard is passing, am I the only one that’s wondering why in God’s name you would decide to move to a system where Steve Nash doesn’t have the ball?

This isn’t about scoring. Nash on this team could score less than ten points a game and still have the highest offensive rating and points per possession off his shots and assists in the league. It’s about the fact that for the past seven years, when Steve Nash has the ball, good things happen for your offense. Amazing things. This isn’t rocket science. Steve Nash + Ball = Good. But for some reason, the Lakers are moving in the opposite direction of that. Even with the idea that Nash is getting up there in age, offensively, he’s the least of the defense’s worries, and so he’s not going to be taking a beating. But to make the offense work, he has to have the ball.

Nash with Gasol in the pick-and-pop is such an amazing idea on its own that it’s going to get overlooked. Bryant cutting off screens for catch-and-shoot curl jumpers  could increase his field goal percentage by 5% or more. Howard and Nash on the pick and roll is a literally, and I mean literally literally, unstoppable combination without sacrificing all of your help defense, leaving Bryant or Gasol open to arguably the best passer in the game.

Why on Earth would you want to move away from that?

It’s not even about pace, it’s just about effectiveness.

The Lakers are still going to be incredible. They could run a Hawks-style isolation offense and still beat the crap out of teams. But the Princeton offense is going to leave a lot to be desired in terms of maximizing their assets. At some point you have to wonder if Mike Brown overthought how to get this super team on the road to a title. But of course, we have to wait and see. Howard’s an underrated passer, and Gasol’s versatile enough to do anything, and Nash is an incredible spot-up shooter. Maybe this works out. But conceptually, it just seems counterintuitive.

Latest Posts
  1. Jason Smith reaches one-year deal with Orlando Magic

    Jul 7, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    New York Knicks V Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    The Knicks and Magic essentially swap reserve centers.

  2. J.J. Redick: Clippers deserve “F” for free agency after losing DeAndre Jordan

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Five Getty Images

    “Listen, we had one priority this summer, and that was to re-sign DJ, and we missed out on that.” — J.J. Redick on the Clippers summer.

  3. PBT Podcast: Free agency’s winners and losers

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge LaMarcus Aldridge

    The Lakers were not free agency losers like some think.

  4. Report: Boston Celtics agree to trade for David Lee for Gerald Wallace

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:06 PM EDT

    davidlee Getty Images

    Look for the Warriors to waive Wallace using the stretch provision.

  5. Lakers anticipate signing D’Angelo Russell in time for Summer League debut vs. Timberwolves

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Draftees Shoot Los Angeles Lakers Draftees Shoot

    Julius Randle, L.A.’s first round pick last year, missed the Summer League opener due to a contract issue.

  6. Lou Williams ‘disappointed’ Raptors didn’t want him back

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The reigning Sixth Man of the Year signed a free agent deal with the Lakers.

  7. Dwyane Wade cites his scoring average when asked how long he’ll continue to play: ‘I think I’ll stay around a while’

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    wade Getty Images

    Wade was the third leading scorer in the East last season, but missed 20 games due to a combination rest and injury.

  8. Mark Cuban fined $25K for commenting on free agents DeAndre Jordan, Wes Matthews

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:31 AM EDT

    Squawk Box - Season 20 Getty Images

    Teams aren’t allowed to discuss deals during the moratorium period, which is still going on.

  9. Report: Kevin Garnett to re-sign with Timberwolves

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Kevin Garnett AP

    KG will be back for a record 21st NBA season.

  10. Report: Cavaliers ‘have not abandoned’ pursuit of J.R. Smith

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    Cleveland just added Mo Williams, but Smith (and Matthew Dellavedova) will likely be back.

  11. Jazz GM says he’ll have news for fans soon regarding contract issue with Trey Lyles

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    Trey Lyles Trey Lyles

    The 12th overall pick hasn’t practiced with the Jazz, and remains unsigned. But the GM says “No worries.”

  12. Report: Players union to set up fund to help retired, destitute players medical expenses

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Michele Roberts, the Executive Director of National Basketball Players Association Getty Images

    This is the kind of thing that all that new television revenue should go to.

  13. LeBron James says his legacy “will speak for itself” (also talks “Trainwreck” movie)

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    All I have ever argued about LeBron’s legacy is that you can’t compare it right now to Magic or Jordan or Bird or whoever because he’s still playing at the peak of his game.

  14. Matt Bonner blames down shooting season on iPhone 6

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:17 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Four Getty Images

    Bonner claims a Spurs strength-and-conditioning coach supports the theory

  15. Report: Mo Williams signing with Cavaliers for most of their MLE

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:04 PM EDT

    Mo Williams, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving AP

    Cleveland fills its biggest need with its second-best roster-building mechanism

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (5981)
  2. D. Jordan (4081)
  3. W. Matthews (4033)
  4. R. Rondo (3541)
  5. D. Wade (3446)
  1. R. Hibbert (3429)
  2. D. West (3392)
  3. K. Bryant (3245)
  4. R. Lopez (3098)
  5. L. James (3040)