Should the Lakers stick with the Triangle offense?

Leave a comment

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.

Zion Williamson’s first NBA basket a putback

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Leave a comment

In his first NBA action, Zion Williamson looked like what he is: A rookie trying to find his way.

At least Willaimson didn’t force the issue and tried to blend in, making smart basketball plays, which led to a first-half bucket and assist in his 8:11 minutes of action.

Zion’s first bucket in the NBA came in the second quarter of his debut game, a putback off a Nickeil Alexander-Walker miss.

In his first quarter run, Zion looked to be unselfish with the ball and made the right basketball play a  few times, passing out of soft doubles and picking up an assist to Brandon Ingram cutting down the lane (but Zion was 0-of-1 shooting).

It was a good start if a bit tentative, something to be expected of a guy who missed 44 games and is now trying to come into the rotation midseason.

As he grows more comfortable, New Orleans needs Zion to attack the rim. The Pelicans have shot creators and shooters — Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, J.J. Redick — and a rim-running, attacking threat that forces defenses to collapse a little will make things easier for the Pelicans’ perimeter players.

San Antonio was sharp in the first half and led by double-digits for much it. That came in part because New Orleans started 0-of-9 from three (despite some clean looks). San Antonio led 60-51 at the half. If the Pelicans are going to make a playoff push, this is the kind of game they need (at home against another team in the mix for one of the final playoff spots in the West).

NBA games still not on China’s state run television

Yanshan Zhang/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In the wake of the backlash from China after Rockets GM Daryl Morey Tweeted out support for the protestors in Hong Kong — the kind of political statement the NBA takes in stride domestically but found it stirred a hornets’ nest in this case — Chinese state television stopped showing NBA games.

That is still the case today, according to Nets’ owner Joeseph Tsai.

Tsai — one of the co-founders of the Alibaba Group, which runs the Chinese equivalent of Amazon — is a billionaire with his feet in both the United States and China. He spoke to Bloomberg News recently about where things stand now in the NBA/China relationship (hat tip Nets Daily).

Tsai is eager to see NBA games back on [state run] CCTV. Although [streaming service] Tencent has begun showing them again, the state-owned broadcaster has yet to budge. A person familiar with the matter says the league is optimistic the network will relent, beginning with the All-Star Game on Feb. 16—there’s no ready replacement, after all, for LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Once you are on the air,” Tsai says, “everything will come back.”

For now.

The NBA, like any American group doing business in China, is caught up in geopolitical forces well beyond its control, from trade wars to protests in Hong Kong. Morey’s Tweet touched on what Tsai called a “third rail of Chinese politics” but he spoke of the Hong Kong protestors as separatists when they would argue they simply want what was promised them in the agreement that transferred control of the city from Brittish to Chinese rule. (And that last sentence itself is a gross oversimplification of a complicated situation.)

NBA games likely will end up back on Chinese television soon (although it will be longer for Rockets’ games), and the business of the NBA in China will continue. Both sides want to make money (and in China, keep a younger generation happy with a sport they have grown to love). However, the underlying issues that caused the last flare-up are not going away — things may be just simmering on the back burner, but the flames are not turned off.

When things do flare up again, Tsai will end up fight back in the middle of it.

Cavaliers: Ante Zizic out indefinitely with vestibular condition

Ante Zizic
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyrie Irving left the Celtics for the Nets after two seasons. The Cavaliers flipped Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder their first season in Cleveland.

The last player remaining with his team from that monumental-looking Cavs-Celtics trade, Ante Zizic might not be long for Cleveland, either.

In fact, it’s unclear whether he’ll play again for the Cavs.

Cavaliers release:

Center Ante Zizic, who has missed the team’s last five games after being diagnosed with a vestibular condition, will be OUT indefinitely. After experiencing symptoms of nausea and dizziness, it was determined by the Cavaliers medical team that Zizic requires a period of vestibular rehabilitation to evaluate those symptoms further. His return to basketball activities will be updated as appropriate.

“Indefinitely” always sounds scary. That’s especially so with an uncommon basketball medical update.

If the Cavaliers unload veterans like Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love before the trade deadline, Zizic could be in line for more playing time down the stretch. He could use a showcase entering unrestricted free agency this summer.

Hopefully, he’s healthy enough to be up for it.

Mavericks reportedly reach out to Joakim Noah to help at center

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dallas’ starting center Dwight Powell is lost for the season due to a torn Achilles suffered Tuesday night.

The Mavs have other centers on the roster, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic, but they want more depth behind those guys. That has led to them touching base with Joakim Noah, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Lakers worked Noah out before the season but decided to go with Dwight Howard.

Noah had a solid second half of last season with Memphis, coming off the bench and providing good defense and 7.1 points per game. He was moving well and fit in as a role player at giving them 16.5 minutes a night.

That’s all Dallas would need, someone to grab rebounds and do the dirty work inside that lets Kristaps Prozingis play his pick-and-pop game. We’ll see if Dallas goes this direction, or another one.