Skip to content

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

Oct 13, 2012, 3:00 PM EST

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. Report: Add the Clippers to the list of teams pursuing Corey Brewer (with Rockets, Cavs)

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:22 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    It would be very difficult for the Clippers to find a deal Minnesota would like.

  2. Carmelo Anthony introduces his latest signature shoe, the Jordan Melo M11

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:51 AM EST

    IMG_2292

    Plenty of photos and a recap of this week’s launch event from Jordan Brand’s Terminal 23 space in NYC.

  3. C.J. Miles gets up, throws down on Clippers (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:12 AM EST

    He turned the table on the Clippers and dunked on them.

  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo sprains ankle, leaves Bucks game not to return

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:46 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    He walked off under his own power but did not return.

  5. Report: Mavericks and Celtics in ‘substantive discussion’ about Rajon Rondo trade

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:33 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Rockets, Kings and Knicks also reportedly inquiring about Celtics point guard

  6. Adam Silver says Charlotte hosting All-Star Game is inevitable

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:25 PM EST

    Adam Silver AP

    In related news, Hornets got a ton of public funding to upgrade arena

  7. Greg Monroe’s agent says he does not want a trade from Pistons

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:39 PM EST

    Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    The offers are not going to be big, will Stan Van Gundy eventually give in and take one?

  8. Now what for Milwaukee Bucks? For rookie of the year race?

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:31 PM EST

    Jabari Parker AP

    There are no good answers for the Bucks, or for other rookies to reward.

  9. Kings owner says Malone fired because Kings now need “jazz director”

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:03 PM EST

    Oklahoma City at Sacramento Oklahoma City at Sacramento

    The Kings roster is poorly suited right now for the style the owner wants to play.

Featured video

Can red hot Warriors sustain success?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Favors (7421)
  2. K. Martin (6774)
  3. A. Davis (6698)
  4. J. Noah (6688)
  5. D. Cousins (6310)
  1. T. Jones (6259)
  2. T. Parker (6253)
  3. A. Bogut (6240)
  4. K. Leonard (6090)
  5. D. Lee (5900)