Los Angeles Lakers: Why the Princeton Offense Will Tear the Team Apart
The Los Angeles Lakers are considering a shift in offensive mentality going into the 2012-2013 campaign.
If this is the case, it's a move that will tear the team apart at the seams and cause too much internal strife to possibly be successful.
I'm not going to talk about the nuts and bolts of the movement-based offensive system and why it's not a great system for the team here, just why it's a bad idea from a mental perspective.
It's time to play psychiatrist.
Throughout his NBA career, the Black Mamba has been able to dominate the ball. In recent years, he's had complete control of the offense and operated as the de facto point guard.
Kobe has been given the green light on offense and is allowed to play isolation basketball and take his man one-on-one whenever he wants. If he feels that the time is right to attempt an insanely difficult turnaround, fading jumper, that's what he's going to do.
In the Princeton offense, that's exactly what he can't do.
Because the offense is predicated on ball movement and eating up the shot-clock with intelligent passing and cutting, one player can't dribble out the 24-second allotment without involving his teammates.
Not only will Bryant's effectiveness go down, but his satisfaction with the team will as well. Kobe holds his teammates to an incredibly high standard, and the results won't be pretty if they're even more involved than normal.
Whether he's on the block or in the high-post, a big man is supposed to be the centerpiece (pun intended) of the offensive system. The ball is thrown in to him and he must hit the backdoor cuts, slashes and open men.
Gasol's offensive versatility and passing skills would be shown off in the system, but there would also be too much pressure.
After the mental burden of last year's playoffs, Los Angeles shouldn't be too eager to make Pau bear the brunt of the responsibility for the success of the Lakers' offense.
He's more than capable of thriving in the system, but the shift could prove disastrous for the Spaniard as well.
The developing big man is on the fast track toward stardom and could soon surpass Dwight Howard as the best center in the league, but only if he continues to improve.
In the new system, Bynum's progress would come to a screeching halt.
His game is old-fashioned, relying on nifty post-moves with his back to the basket. He doesn't cut particularly well, and his passing is lackluster and uninspired when he chooses to even let go of the ball after touching it.
Bynum needs to be able to use possessions on the blocks and go to work, using move after move to make his defender look silly.
The timing of the shift in mentality is also poor, in regards to Bynum's future with the team. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2013, and contract extension talks should be taking place throughout the season.
If anything, the Lakers should be appeasing him more than normal. By running an offense that devalues him and takes away touches, the organization is doing the opposite and driving him out of the Staples Center.
Throughout his career, both with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, the occasionally long-haired Canadian controlled the offense with his passing and scoring abilities. He thrived in the fast break and running the pick-and-roll, dishing out dimes with incredible ease.
The Princeton offense doesn't allow him to be a true point guard, but rather just another part of the machine.
It's hard to say it much better than fellow B/R Featured Columnist Tyler Conway did:
One of the key components to the Princeton offense is that whoever has the ball in his hands becomes the point guard.
The offense is predicated on screens and off-ball movement. Each member of the offense, especially at positions 1 through 4, are expected to be able to dribble, pass or shoot from wherever they catch the ball.
Therefore, the traditional point guard has little purpose other than bringing the ball up the floor.
Lakers fans know this as the "Derek Fisher role."
For Nash, a player who thrives by being ball-dominant, this will be the biggest adjustment. In Phoenix, Nash was the vital cog which made everything tick. In the Princeton, he's just a part of the larger whole.
Nash might want a ring, but does he want to take a back seat to get one? Is he going to be content to allow lesser playmakers to handle the ball and create offense for the Lakers?
Only time will tell, but this isn't what the floor general signed up for when he initially lifted up a Lakers jersey at a press conference.
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