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Don’t blame Princeton. If Lakers turn it around it’s all about turnovers.

Nov 9, 2012, 11:39 AM EST

Kobe Bryant AP

Don’t blame Princeton.

National pundits and Lakers fans are hammering Lakers coach Mike Brown and the Princeton offense — Charles Barkley said he wants his accountants from Princeton, not his offense. It’s to the point Brown’s job could be threatened if the Lakers don’t have a strong home stand. All this even though it was Kobe Bryant who urged Brown to consider the Princeton offense

But the thing is the Princeton offense has really worked when they run it right. Don’t believe me? There’s proof (in the admittedly small sample sizes).

So far this season, Kobe has taken 50 percent of his shots inside the restricted area, right at the rim — that is double last season’s percentage (a great post at Forum Blue & Gold breaks down Kobe’s scoring this season). As should be obvious, even Kobe scores more shooting at the rim than he does 20 feet away. Rather than setting up in isolation plays where he gets the ball 22 feet from the basket and the defense sets for him, he is cutting and working off the ball and the result is better shots. The result is Kobe is shooting 56 percent this season, up from 43 percent last season.

Then there is Dwight Howard. Still bothered by a back not fully recovered from off-season surgery, he is averaging 22.4 points a game on 67.8 percent shooting. He is getting good looks. And so it goes down the line — the Lakers are getting good shots and actually scoring plenty.

The Lakers are averaging 104.6 points per 100 possessions, sixth best in the NBA according to NBA.com’s official stats.

That despite turning the ball over like a junior high team.

Just watching them the Lakers clearly not comfortable yet with their new offense and the resulting miscommunications have led to the Lakers turning the ball over on a league-leading 20 percent of their possessions — one in five trips down the floor they cough it up.

The result — opposing teams are getting 14.1 percent of their offense against the Lakers in transition and they are shooting 65.5 percent in that mode (according to Synergy Sports). Transition is the second most common offensive attack against the Lakers and when teams do that and score at a high rate you are in trouble.

The Lakers are currently 23rd in the NBA in defense, giving up 103.1 points per 100 possessions.

Let’s be honest, it’s not just transition defense — the Lakers handling of the pick-and-roll has been ugly as well. Pick-and-roll ball handlers and roll men account for 20.4 percent of the shots against the Lakers and teams are shooting 48.4 percent against the Lakers on that play.

This was something Dwight Howard was supposed to help solve — when healthy he is the best pick-and-roll defending big man in the NBA. But he is not moving like that guy right now, Steve Nash can’t help much even when he gets on the court and the Lakers rotations have been nonexistent.

And yes, the Lakers bench has been a non-factor.

But it still comes back to the turnovers — cut those out and you both increase your offensive output and you take away some of that ugly transition defense the Lakers are playing. Los Angeles is older and they are not going to be a running team. They are going to slow it down most of the season (even with Nash back — did you see him push the pace the first couple games only to look up and see nobody ran with him?). When they turn the ball over it plays right into their greatest weakness.

Take care of the ball and Mike Brown’s job is safe.

Well, at least until next summer if they don’t win it all.

  1. mlblogsbig3bosox - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Great article. It shows that the Lakers main issue is their chemistry. This team, even not playing at their highest gear, could be top 3 on offense and top 15 on defense (The Spurs earned the 1st seed last year playing like that). Just more playing time together will get this team on track. I know that’s been said a lot by now but the numbers show that they’re not playing like a cohesive unit right now.

  2. manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    “Just watching them(,) the Lakers (are) clearly not comfortable yet with their new offense and the resulting miscommunications have led to the Lakers turning the ball over on a league-leading 20 percent of their possessions — one in five trips down the floor they cough it up.

    “The result — opposing teams are getting 14.1 percent of their offense against the Lakers in transition and they are shooting 65.5 percent in that mode (according to Synergy Sports). Transition is the second most common offensive attack against the Lakers and when teams do that and score at a high rate you are in trouble.”

    Uncomfortable in the offense, i.e., not knowing where to be and/or not knowing where teammates will/should be, thus turning the ball over at a horrific rate resulting in multiple fast-break opportunities for the opposition all says one very obvious thing to me: At this stage of the experiment one can put a very large amount of the blame regarding the Lakers’ poor start squarely on the Princeton offense.

    Putting their struggles with the Princeton aside, this team as it’s constituted is not conducive to running that offense. With two quality bigs inside, Bryant outside and Nash dealing the rock, why in the world would you attempt to run an offense that puts a premium on running around? Get it into the post, run the pick-and-roll, drive the lane and kick….Anything BUT the Princeton, please!

  3. southbeachtalent - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    MIKE BROWN HAS BEEN FIRED!! heard it here first!

    • limonadamas - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      whoa! i guess the “vote of confidence” really is a death sentence.

  4. aldavis4president - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    its 50% chemistry…and 50% princeton offence…princton offence r u serious?!?! wudnt have fired brown jus yet but defitnitley wudve got rid of eddie jordan ..smh to much panicking so early

  5. nativetexan2012 - Nov 11, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    Yes, it was all about the Princeton. The Princeton was a major factor in the number of turnovers because of the confusion among the players about where they were expected to be, etc. If Mike Brown had not made the fatal mistake of bringing in that offense, he would still be the Lakers coach.

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