Oct 26, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT
Back in 2008, when the Suns acquired Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash‘s transition to running a more traditional offense was described by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz as “a hummingbird trapped in a sandwich bag”. Forced to play a more slow down style to accommodate a plodding big man that clogged the paint, the visual of that phrase has stuck with me to this day.
The point was clear. Steve Nash needs a certain amount of freedom and space to be at his absolute best.
Now that Nash is a Laker and playing with two big men that love to operate in the paint, a shooting guard that has played on the ball for the majority of his career and in the Princeton offense, will he get it?
Before we go too far down this path, let’s get something out of the way. Steve Nash can fit into any offense. His shooting alone gives him value to any team and makes him a threat in any system. Add his creativity off the dribble, his floor vision, and his ability to control the tempo of the game as a floor general and he’s a point guard in the truest sense. Give him any playbook and time to learn it and he’ll orchestrate the offense very well.
Carrying that logic forward to the Lakers, Nash will be fine running the Princeton offense under head coach Mike Brown and assistant Eddie Jordan. Nash is smart enough to find spots on and off the ball where he can do damage and is skilled enough to execute once the opportunity presents itself. He’s Steve Nash.
That said, when you zoom in, there are things to look for that can be seen as potential roadblocks that will need to be overcome. First, Nash will be giving up the ball early in possessions for the first time since his days as a Maverick. In the Princeton offense Nash will pass to a teammate and either screen for someone or cut through to the weak side. Nash will need to re-acclimate to playing off the ball in this manner. He’s used to coming back and getting the ball when an action breaks down, not spotting up and working off his teammates. This will take time to adjust to.
Second, Nash will need to get used to playing with players who have the versatility to play all over the floor. In Phoenix Nash played with a bunch of specialists. He played with three point shooters and slashers on the wing and big men that thrived on setting screens and diving to the rim. With the Lakers, he’ll be in a lineup with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace and none of them are, by definition, specialists.
Instead, all three of them will operate on the wing and in the post. All of them can (and will) play at the elbow or the baseline. All are used to creating for themselves in isolation and can work well as cutters off the ball. This versatility has helped define their careers as offensive threats (especially Kobe and Pau who, to be fair, are a level above MWP at this stage in their respective careers). Nash will need to adjust to them, where they like to operate on the floor and how they like to operate on offense. Again, this will take time.
Ultimately, though, Nash has a few things going for him that will make this transition easier.
First, he will start nearly every possession with the ball in his hands and will quarterback the Lakers’ offense. He can decide how Lakers’ possessions begin and how they evolve simply by being the trigger man. If Nash wants to run a pick and roll to start a Lakers’ set, he can. If he wants to work an action where Kobe will get the ball early and be the primary option, he can do that too. If it’s time to get Gasol or Howard a touch in the post, Nash can make that happen simply by organizing his teammates and dictating how the play unfolds. Nash has that power and it has been bestowed on him by his head coach.
Second is that Mike Brown wants his team playing at a faster tempo than they showed last season. In Brown’s introductory press conference a year ago, one of his key offensive principles was to push the ball up the floor. The only problem was that the Lakers didn’t really have the personnel to do that (I’m looking at you, Andrew Bynum). This season, some of the more slow footed players are gone and that will allow Nash to increase the speed at which the Lakers play. He’ll get more early offense opportunities and can create more plays in transition.
Third, the Lakers have the yang to Nash’s yin in Dwight Howard. Simply put, Nash is one of the very best pick and roll guards and the Lakers have themselves the most devastating pick and roll finisher in Howard. Nash, if you listen to Mike Brown, will have the opportunity to run pick and rolls to start every possession if that’s what he chooses. Whenever Howard and Nash share the floor, they’ll be able to go away from the Princeton and instead unleash the play that’s been the bread and butter action for both of them for years. The ability to fall back on this should a play break down really can’t be overvalued.
In the end, what Nash’s success will really come down to is 1). time to gain a comfort level on this new team and everything that comes with that and 2). developing a balance in how he wants to play within the styles of offense that are presented each trip down the floor. There will be some restrictions based off the structure of the Princeton. But there will also be freedoms in the form of decision making and (particularly with Howard and Pau) partners he can work with to run the types of actions he’s had most of his success with over the years.
There will be hiccups along the way and challenges that will need to be overcome. But don’t mistake that for not fitting. After all, he’s Steve Nash. He fits into any offense you want to run.
May 23, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT
Even before the season tipped off you had a pretty good sense that LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul would be All-NBA First Team — they are dominant players at or entering their peak. But Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan continue to defy father time. The two veterans round out the All NBA Team…
May 23, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
520px;”> Phil Jackson has been virtually everywhere the last couple weeks selling his new book “Eleven Rings” but one of my favorite interviews so far is the one from last night with John Stewart on The Daily Show. And not because as a Knicks fan Stewart wants to know about those two rings. It’s near…
May 23, 2013, 11:39 AM EDT
We’ve all done this: After a really difficult project, no matter how rewarding it was, right afterward we say “no way, I’m never doing that again.” Then six months later we look back on it and think “you know, it wasn’t that bad” and talk ourselves into doing it again. That’s Mike Krzyzewski and coaching…
May 23, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
There’s a big risk that comes with draft Nerlens Noel. And not just his torn ACL. Noel played only 24 games last season, and although that’s more than twice as many as Kyrie Irving did his lone season at Duke, it’s still a pretty small sample. I think Noel proved enough to justify becoming the…
May 23, 2013, 11:01 AM EDT
The Wizards rightfully believe they would have made the playoffs if they remained healthy this season. Washington went 24-25 with John Wall – a better winning percentage than the eighth-seeded Bucks (38-44). And when Wall, Nene and Bradley Beal all played, the Wizards were 15-7. Washington should be excited to have a team on the…
May 23, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Pacers coach Frank Vogel had his reasoning — the Heat with their small lineup had five guys who can shoot from the perimeter so he wanted to match that with a small lineup that could switch everything. Twice in the last 10.8 seconds he pulled the 7’2” rim-defending center and went small with Tyler Hansbrough…
May 23, 2013, 10:03 AM EDT
It’s good to have the best player on the planet on your team. At the end of the day that was the reason the Miami Heat are up 1-0 — as great as Paul George was for Indiana, the Miami Heat have LeBron James. From the very start LeBron was knocking down jumpers from the…
May 23, 2013, 8:43 AM EDT
LeBron James’ detractors are still plentiful and are still vocal — just follow the conversation on twitter during any Heat game. People will tell you how much they loathe LeBron and everything he stands for. But they are buying his shoes. Forbes Magazine broke down the numbers on domestic signature shoe sales (from sportsonesource.com) and…
May 23, 2013, 2:39 AM EDT
For the 145th time since they joined forces in Miami, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh finished as the Heat’s top three scorers. For the first time in the 2013 calendar year, the fourth-leading scorer – Chris Andersen – scored more than 15 points. It’s been much less of a concern that many expected…
May 23, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT
America, meet Paul George. He’s the Pacer that hit the insane, dramatic three pointer that sent Game 1 against the Heat into overtime. He’s the guy that drew the superstar call on Dwyane Wade, then with ice water in his veins hit three free throws to give Indiana the lead with 2.2 seconds left in…
Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’
May 23, 2013, 1:49 AM EDT
The Heat came away with the 103-102 overtime victory over the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, thanks to a triple-double performance from LeBron James, which included hitting the game-winning layup as time expired. The words “game-winning layup” should never be a relevant phrase this deep into the postseason; teams normally defend…
May 23, 2013, 1:16 AM EDT
The Pacers gave the Heat all they wanted in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but in the end, the game’s best player — along with some questionable coaching strategy down the stretch — was too much for Indiana to overcome. LeBron James finished with a triple-double line of 30 points, 10 rebounds, and…
May 23, 2013, 12:28 AM EDT
Paul George hit a big time shot at the end of regulation to get the Pacers to overtime, but once we got to the end of the extra session, LeBron James took his turn at the last-second heroics. With the Heat trailing by one and 2.2 seconds remaining, James receives the inbounds pass and immediately…
May 22, 2013, 11:50 PM EDT
At the beginning of this possession, it looked like Paul George of the Pacers made a huge mistake by not raising up for the shot when he first received the ball at the top of the arc. As the seconds ticked away and with the Pacers down three, things seemed to be breaking down to…
May 22, 2013, 9:52 PM EDT
Carmelo Anthony’s shoulder was clearly bothering him through much of the playoffs, but he fought through it as best he could averaging 28.8 points per game (on just 40.1 percent shooting, down from 44 in the regular season) with 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He injured it in Game 5 against the Celtics and went…
May 22, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
Mike Krzyzewski coming back to coach Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics is certainly a good step toward another gold medal for the Americans. Coach K has been 62-1 at the helm of USA Basketball. But it’s not the biggest key. That would be getting LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the elite talent of…
May 22, 2013, 7:36 PM EDT
Economists have done countless studies that show the economic impact of major league sports — and especially the impact of building new arenas and stadiums — are pretty negligible, often even painful for individual cities. I believe that. But it’s still hard to explain just what it meant to Charlotte to get the Hornets. We…
May 22, 2013, 7:32 PM EDT
We mentioned this in our story telling you Mike Krzyzewski will be back as head coach of Team USA for the 2016 Olympics — there might be some changes to his staff. One bit of news is in — Mike D’Antoni is out as an assistant coach, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.…
May 22, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT
For the next few weeks PBT will be profiling likely first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today we talk about one of the best dunker’s in the game right now. San Diego State is turning out some talent under Steve Fisher the last few years. That Kawhi Leonard guy is giving the Grizzlies…
- LeBron, Durant, Kobe headline All NBA First Team 0
- It’s official: Krzyzewski back to coach Team USA through Rio Olympics 0
- Hibbert said he will speak up in future, demand to be in game at end 4
- Chris Andersen complements Heat’s Big Three so well 21
- Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’ 14
- Report: Dwight Howard will consider multiple teams in free agency, is said to be most intrigued by the Rockets (122)
- Kobe Bryant responds to Michael Jordan comparison from Phil Jackson (89)
- Alonzo Mourning says Scottie Pippen says LeBron would “kick Jordan’s ass” (76)
- Bradley Beal said he’d lose respect for a teammate who acted like Derrick Rose (67)
- Pacers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 6 win over Knicks (60)
- Lochte says Phelps will return soon
- Tebow fact: He reminds Chuck Norris of Chuck Norris
- LeBron stuns Pacers with OT winner in Game 1
- HBT: Astros vendor fired after taking food into bathroom
- Pens overwhelm Sens, take 3-1 series lead
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement