How Pau Gasol Can Return to Superstar Status in Princeton Offense
The changes the Los Angeles Lakers have made this offseason have seemingly been to the benefit of one man above any other.
Now that Steve Nash is in purple and gold and the team is planning on running the Princeton offense, however, Pau Gasol should put all the critics behind him, allowing him to return to his former superstar status.
First, there's the obvious boon to his game that is the addition of Steve Nash. There are very few point guards in the game capable of controlling an offense quite like Nash.
The combination of running the pick-and-roll with Gasol, which the big man is terrific at, the increased spacing on offense and Gasol's continued success as a finesse big man in the post is going to make him better this season regardless of the offense the Lakers run. Los Angeles went and gave him an even better chance of playing this season by switching over to the Princeton offense.
First, let's take a look at a basic offensive possession within the parameters of the Princeton offense:
If you follow No. 55 in this clip, that's basically going to be Pau Gasol's job. Andrew Bynum is technically the true big man on the team, but Gasol is the superior passer, shooter and ball-handler, meaning he'll likely have the more important role in the offense.
The main goal of the offense is to move the players quickly and efficiently, using screens and constant ball movement to get an open shot. Gasol's job here is to move between high screens on the ball, screens on the weak side, posting up and a sort of pick-and-dash where he cuts to the basket as the ball-handler folds out to the wing.
It seems like it's supposed to be an offense where everyone touches the ball at some point, but there are many situations in which the most skilled player on the floor has a play run for him, which means Kobe's superior one-on-one skill won't be wasted.
However, even in those situations, guys like Gasol will be used as a screen or even to set the offense in the post initially to create some confusion and spacing.
In almost every situation, Gasol is going to look for the pass first. It will either be to a man cutting behind the defense when he holds the ball from the elbow or in a ball reversal when he gets the ball in the post to a man cutting from the other side of the floor from the low post to the three-point line by a winger and an open long ball.
While it may seem that all Gasol is doing here is being the intermediary between the initial ball-handler and the subsequent shooter, he's actually going to end up being the focal point of the offense in many situations. The ball consistently finds its way into the post, and in a constantly moving offense like this, big men who rely on finesse moves are favored over power offensive players.
In the position that he'll be in, Gasol will end up with more advantageous positions on the floor to put a shot in and he'll be in position to gather assists more so than most other big men in the league.
Where the big man really excels in the Princeton offense is as the screen setter—something that Gasol is extremely capable of. As a smart player, he'll be able to know where he's supposed to go from the first pass or two—kind of how he was used in the triangle as a facilitator, ball-handler and face-up post player.
Los Angeles is going to have to be very conditioned coming into this season, and it's probably going to take a few weeks for them to really get into the swing of the new play set, but once it all comes together, it can be a thing of beauty.
The old-school ebb and flow of the offense mixed with the new-school pace and skill needed to run it is something that's going to benefit the Lakers should they run into some athletic young team that can run and jump everywhere, say, like the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Miami Heat.
With the role that he'll have in the offense, everyone will remember why he was the highly-touted talent that he was two years ago, even if he still has some defensive struggles here and there.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?