The Los Angeles Lakers will be undergoing a number of transitions this season, but don't be so quick to count learning the Princeton offense as an especially daunting one.
Not for Kobe Bryant anyway.
Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell reports via Twitter that L.A.'s iconic guard has this thing figured out after discussions with head coach Mike Brown and assistant Eddie Jordan (a Princeton offense mastermind):
Kobe Bryant has already had a few meetings w/Brown & Jordan about the Princeton. Jordan said he'd literally already picked it up in advance.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 17, 2012
No one should be too surprised.
After all, Bryant has always had a great basketball mind, even if it was overshadowed early in his career by equally mesmerizing athletic ability. And it's worth noting this is the same offense Bryant faced in the playoffs when matched up against Rick Adelman's Sacramento Kings.
The scheme isn't entirely dissimilar from Phil Jackson's triangle offense, which also relies heavily on off-the-ball movement to keep defenders from focusing their attention on any one scoring weapon.
Indeed, Bryant has supported this transition from Day 1 (via Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski):
"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."
After a season in which Kobe was asked to take a lot of shots and isolate the ball more frequently, one might assume that's the way he prefers playing.
In reality, it was more likely just the way Mike Brown was comfortable coaching in his first season with a team that was transitioning away from an old system. Implementing a complex new offense may not have been a viable option given the shortened training camp and a season that allowed little time for learning on the fly.
This time around is a different story.
With prominent new faces in the rotation, the Lakers were destined to go through some growing pains anyway. Now is as good a time as ever to integrate new and old faces alike into a scheme that could make Los Angeles a tougher out in the postseason.
An offense that can make the most of that magic is an important step in the right direction.
It's a step Kobe was willing to take, and there should be little doubt about his ability to do so. Beyond his acumen and experience, Bryant is a versatile scorer who can fit into any number of different roles.
He may excel at creating off the dribble, but Bryant's also plenty capable of letting Steve Nash run the show while he comes off screens or cuts to the basket.
Because the two can trade off when it comes to who initiates the play just makes this an even more dangerous and unpredictable attack for defenders.
Anyone with the slightest of doubts about the direction in which this team is headed can take a sigh of relief. Kobe won't just make this offense work–he'll make it look good.