Lakers going to run some Princeton offense next season

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Three-man and two-man offenses on one side of the court. Motion off the ball. Always keep spacing. Read the defense and react, don’t just run set plays. Create and exploit mismatches.

It sounds like the triangle offense that Kobe Bryant won rings with and clearly missed last year when the Lakers started running more traditional sets under Mike Brown.

It also describes the Princeton offense.

And that is why the Lakers are close to signing Eddie Jordan as an assistant coach, so they can run the Princeton offense next year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports. Kobe wanted to go this direction and apparently the organization is on board. Woj spoke to Kobe about it in London.

“It’s a great offense,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s exactly what we need. It takes us back to being able to play by making reads and reacting to defenses. It takes a great deal of communication, but that’s where we’re at our best: Reading and reacting as opposed to just coming down and calling sets. Calling sets make you vulnerable.

“There’s so many threats, so many options, it’s very tough to defend. Against the type of defenses that teams play nowadays, they load up on one side and are constantly coming with help from the weak side. The Princeton offense makes it very, very tough to lock in on one particular player.”

Those defenses that Kobe is describing are the Tom Thibodeau style defense that Boston and Chicago have had success with and many teams (including the Lakers) have emulated.

It will be interesting to see how the Lakers use a Princeton offense with Steve Nash — his outside shooting certainly helps space the floor in those sets. But not using Nash on some more traditional pick-and-roll sets with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol would be a waste, as would not allowing Nash to push the pace and probe early in the shot clock. He is at his most dangerous in that setting.

But for Kobe and Gasol — two high IQ players — the Princeton offense makes a lot of sense. The Princeton offense demands its bigs be able to pass and be a threat from the elbow or free throw line, and Gasol is those things. Kobe would work off the ball and on curls. And of course, there would be back-door cuts.

Jordan had some success before as a coach in Washington but struggled to get the Sixers to really buy into his offense a couple years ago. However, that roster was a poor fit for what he wanted to do. The Lakers roster is a much better fit.

My guess is we will see a hybrid, with the Lakers running Princeton at times but not every time down the court, or that they will be able to attack for the first 10 seconds of the clock before settling into the offense.

The Princeton offense is not some new gimmick or college offense — this is essentially what the ‘60s Celtics ran. It works. It can win. And it might not be Showtime but it could be a good fit for the Lakers.