The Lakers offense this season is not going to be as different as you think.
Oh, it will look different. Gone will be Tex Winter’s triangle replaced with Mike Brown’s new “twin towers” look where he will try to exploit the Lakers tall, skilled big men, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. He has said some of the sets would be stolen from the Tim Duncan/David Robinson Spurs teams. Smart move.
But the more things change the more they stay the same. What will not change is Kobe Bryant will get his shots — and he will get them from his spots on the floor. Like the elbows or the block, where he can be automatic. The new offense may get there in another way but the goal of getting Kobe shots from his comfort zone will not change.
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times broke out what Brown said about Kobe in the offense recently.
Bryant has resorted more to a post-up game in the past two seasons to preserve energy and because he studied more moves from Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. This would be a sound strategy considering he shot 49.3% from that area, according to Synergy Sports. Brown envisions Bryant receiving shots from the mid-to-high post, a spot Brown refers to as “the Karl Malone area….”
Brown routinely talked about ensuring Bryant receives looks in his “sweet spots.” Brown never defined where those are, but Synergy tabs that the plurality of Bryant’s shots last season (31.5%) came in isolation sets. Bryant’s proved effective in this department, shooting 44%, but he may want to temper running isos.
You are not going to get Kobe out of isolation sets, but in the old offense that often came when the play seemed to break down and Kobe was thrown the ball with eight seconds on the shot clock and asked to bail the team out. There are ways to make Kobe’s isolation sets more effective by creating spacing and matchups.
But in those isos, Kobe often tries to drive to the elbow — one of his “sweet spots” — and pull up. There are other ways to get him there in sets that would look different but end with the same result.
Darius at Forum Blue & Gold gives a little breakout of what that will look like.
Like any good coach, Brown shows he realizes an effective Kobe will greatly aid LA’s offensive execution and Brown wants to create scenarios where Kobe can get to his spots easily. This may seem like a departure from the triangle offense where reading and reacting to the defense triggered actions, and under normal circumstances you’d be correct. However, after watching Kobe all these years it’s been quite evident that Kobe manipulated the triangle more often than anyone ever pointed out. Knowing the offense as well as he did meant he could read a possession multiple steps ahead, make passes to certain players/parts of the floor, run the appropriate actions, and then set himself up in a position where he’d get the ball at the elbow or the low block. (How many times do you recall Kobe passing to the wing, cutting to the weak side, ending up at the elbow, and then pointing to the strong side and asking for a ball reversal so he could make the catch at the elbow? Only hundreds of times by my unofficial count.) Under Brown, the Lakers offense will work much in this same way only it won’t happen under the guise of the Triangle.
All of which is to say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.