Tag: triangle offense

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant looks on against the New York Knicks during second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

Kobe shooting woes sign of changes coming to Lakers


Kobe Bryant was ice cold last night, shooting 6-of-28. That of course has led to the standard black or white Kobe discussion on the internet — his defenders act as if he can do no wrong, his detractors think he shoots for his ego not because he’s one of the game’s great all time shooters.

As with all things Kobe, it’s not that simple.

Kobe and the Lakers are adjusting to major changes — Mike Brown’s new offense and the shift of the Lakers to an inside-out offensive team. Here is what Brown told the Los Angeles Daily News.

“We got a couple of things we can run to get (Kobe) in his sweet spots,” Brown said. “I’m still trying to figure out that, too. We’ve got a guy like (Andrew) Bynum, we’ve got a guy like (Pau) Gasol, who deserve touches. You always want to play in the flow. We’re all kind of feeling our way right now.”

Kobe is now a primary ball handler on the pick-and-roll and that’s a big adjustment from the actions of the triangle. Unleashed like this Kobe’s nature is to attack — and so he takes on more of the offensive load. He has a usage rate of 38.2 (basically percentage of possessions used when he is on the floor), which is the highest it has been since the Smush Parker/Kwame Brown era in Los Angeles.

Just like those seasons, when Kobe starts off shooting 1-of-10 like he did Sunday night he will keep shooting because Kobe has shot his way out of slumps for 15 seasons. His incredible confidence in himself is a reason he has 28,000 career points. He still sees himself as the best scoring option.

But Kobe has to adjust.

The Lakers beat Denver the night before because despite having Nene the Nuggets can’t stop Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. For two games Bynum is averaging 23.5 points per game shooting 66.7 percent — feed the man the ball.

Kobe is the only guy who can really create his own shot on the perimeter for this Lakers squad, Kobe is going to be the guy with the ball in his injured hands. But he must learn to be a distributor more than just a scorer. For the sake of the Lakers he has to approach it differently. He has to feed the post more. He has to get himself to the post more. The Lakers need to work inside out.

The Lakers have the size and skill up front that no team can match. That is where they are going to win games, that is where they are going to advance deep into the playoffs (that and defense). Kobe still needs to be Kobe, but a modified version. Sort of like the Lakers themselves.

Can Kobe adapt? Can the Lakers? It may take time, but if they can they are a threat in the West. If not, things will end early for an older Lakers team.

How the Lakers will use Kobe in Mike Brown’s offense

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Hornets - Game Three

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.

Steve Blake tweaking his shot before next season

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks

Steve Blake never seemed comfortable in the Lakers triangle offense last season.

Coming from more traditional point guard systems, he never seemed to be able to find his spaces in the offense. He saw his assist rate fall way off career averages (the point guard is more a catch-and-shoot guy in Phil Jackson’s triangle) while his turnover percentage went up from those career numbers.

It also showed on his three point shooting — he shot 37.8 percent, which is not bad but well below the 39.5 percent he hit two seasons ago. The two seasons before that he knocked down better than 40 percent of his threes. It wasn’t just there, on long twos (more than 16 feet out) he shot 35 percent last season, down from 46 percent with the Clippers the season before.

This summer Blake is reworked his shot a little, he told the Los Angeles Times.

“I’m trying to get more arch on my shot,” Blake said Thursday in a phone interview. “That’s what I’ve been working on this summer. I’m trying to shoot the ball a little higher and see if that will improve my jump shot. I didn’t shoot the ball horribly this year, but I didn’t shoot it as well as I wanted to.”

With Mike Brown, the Lakers point guard will play a more traditional role. That suits Blake in the half court where he has had success in that role before, although when asked to push the tempo with the Clippers a couple seasons ago — something the PG will be asked to do more with the Lakers next season — he was a turnover machine.

Blake is optimistic about the change.

“This year it’ll be a more traditional point guard role,” Blake said. “This past year, we had a two-guard front where a lot of times I wouldn’t even bring the ball up. Now it’s more of a typical point guard role I’ll probably be able to excel in more. I’ll be more comfortable in being able to just react and not have to think as much. You’re always thinking. But the triangle is different. You have to learn it a lot more. This will be easier for me to acclimate to this new offense. I think I’ll be more successful that way.”

Blake is going to get his chance, but the Lakers need to bring in someone younger and better suited to the position at both ends of the floor if they are to remain title contenders. Right now Derek Fisher and Blake are the PGs on the roster, and that will mean trouble for the Lakers (especially on defense). But Blake will get a chance to prove he’s better than he looked last year.

Should the Lakers stick with the Triangle offense?

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
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As blasphemous as it may sound, a fellow over at Silver Screen and Roll known only as “Actuarially Sound” thinks it’s time for the Lakers to ditch Tex Winter’s fabled offensive system after they hire their next coach. The article is 3,100 words and includes some nice graphs, so I encourage you to click over instead of expecting me to give it justice here, but here are some of the juicier tidbits:

The Lakers have the personnel to make the Triangle work.  However, the Lakers have very intelligent players and they could use almost any offense that did not depend on an athletic point guard to run the show. The offense chosen should be the one that best maximizes the team’s chances of winning a title and not simply the one they are most familiar with. This leads to Mark’s second point. Jackson won 11 titles using the system, so clearly it works and thus should be continued. It is this second point with which I take issue.  All due respect to the great Tex Winter, I think the Triangle offense is vastly over-rated…

…The offense under Phil Jackson did not improve in any way. The Lakers had the 2nd best offense in the league under Del Harris but that ranking dropped to 4th when Phil arrived with the Triangle. The defense however went from sub-par to the league’s best. It was the defense that changed and led the Lakers to a title. Phil deserves some credit for this, and while the Triangle offense does encourage good floor spacing which could help improve transition defense, it would be a stretch to attribute a change of this magnitude to the offense.

the offense does not create opportunities to score from the two most efficient places on the floor, at the rim and behind the arc, like other offenses do. Most of the Lakers baskets at the rim come from dribble penetration, one-on-one post-ups, or offensive rebounding. The offense does not use any back picks and the only motion to the rim are when the wings enter the ball into the post and then make a token dive towards the rim which is rarely open. It may be surprising to some but the Lakers, despite their enormous size finished 19th in league in shots at the rim this season and 16th last year.

Similarly the offense does not lend itself to many three point attempts. Even though the Lakers are not the best three point shooting team, the extra value of the shot more than offsets the lower field goal percentage. The Lakers finished 17 in three point attempts per game last year. Basically the Triangle offense produces and “average” number of attempts near the basket and “average” number of three point attempts which results in the offense being “average”.

Again, the article is massive and a must-read, so I encourage you to click over and read the whole thing rather than judge it on the 10% of it I’ve posted here. The Lakers have three of the best post players in the league and have had tremendous success with the triangle (or “triple-post”) offense in the past, and the offense does provide some benefits, such as ball control and pace control, that don’t show up in simple offensive efficiency.

And in the playoffs, drive-and-kick play seems to be slightly less effective than it is in the regular season as teams face more defenses capable of loading up the strong side and rotating back to shooters. Still, this is an article that Laker fans should definitely consider as the team’s coaching search goes on this off-season.

Report: Kurt Rambis done in Minnesota after season, team denies


UPDATE March 14, 9:53 am: As should be expected and is basically standard operating procedure in these cases, Minnesota officials denied everything about the report, according to the Pioneer Press. GM David Kahn particularly smacked down the idea that Kelvin Sampson was a planned replacement.

Kurt Rambis was much more direct.

“I don’t comment on things I haven’t read, and I never comment on things that cowards say,” Rambis said before heading to the team’s charter flight to Oakland. “If somebody wants to say something and attach their name to it, that’s another matter. Rumors are out there all the time. Anybody can start a rumor, but if they don’t attach their name to it, they’re a coward.”

March 12, 1:01 pm: Minnesota already has 50 losses this season and will likely finish with 60 or more when all is said and done. Which is a little better than the 67 lost last season but let’s not pretend we’re in the ballpark of reasonable.

It means that coach Kurt Rambis will likely be let go at the end of the season, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. The decision will come at the end of the season but some within the organization are pushing hard for a change.

With a young roster clearly lacking in veteran leadership, some members of the Minnesota brain trust believe the team needs a more vocal, energetic coach on the sideline. Rambis is cut from the Phil Jackson cloth of letting his players police themselves, and also has been at odds with (Kevin) Love for long stretches. A coaching change is something Love would not oppose, sources say.

From almost day one there has seemed to be no cohesion between management’s vision and Rambis’ vision. They hire him to run the triangle offense in Minnesota, then use their two lottery draft picks that summer to bring in two ball-dominating point guards — the one thing the triangle offense does not require. Minnesota was in a place where they needed to gamble on young talent to fill out a roster, regardless of position, but again that is a bad fit for how you want to build a triangle-based team.

Rambis was slow to recognize what he had in Love — benching him for stretches at the start of this season even though he was their best player — and he seemed unable to get guys to really buy into the system fully.

Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson is the frontrunner to get the job next season, Berger says. He may be a better fit, but unless he gets more talent to expect many more wins would be a mistake. The talent question hinges on Ricky Rubio, the Spanish point guard. Minnesota staff are insistent he will play in the NBA next season, but the threat of a lockout makes it seem more likely he would spend one more season in Europe before coming over (he has to announce his intentions on his Euro deal this spring, long before a deal will be struck between the owners and players).

Rambis’ name may come up when Phil Jackson walks away from the Lakers at the end of this season. Lakers assistant Brian Shaw remains the front-runner for that job, however.