Is Dwight Howard the Right Fit for the Princeton Offense?

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterOctober 3, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic looks on against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

At first glance, Dwight Howard seems an incongruous fit for the Princeton offense. The attack is predicated on movement from all players, and the big men are often stationed far from the hoop. 

Though Howard is a traditional center in the sense of operating near the basket, he has skills that could fit perfectly in a fast-moving approach. Howard has nimble feet, and he's as quick as he is strong. Unlike, say, Shaq, D12 can flash to the rim in a dead sprint.

This is why Stan Van Gundy often would station Howard above the three-point line. This allowed Howard to beat a slower man to basket, or at least give him enough space to establish position. 

The Princeton offense will allow Howard his running lanes, but it also could take him out of his comfort zone a bit in the aggregate. Like any big man, Howard enjoys receiving entry passes and pounding the rock as everyone watches. 

The Princeton offense will require movement and off-ball cutting from the entire team, and such a system simply cannot coexist with Howard holding the rock for long stretches. While I believe that a more balanced, Princeton-style offense is probably a good strategy, there is a chance that Howard won't like feeling peripheral on more possessions. 

Offensive rebounding could suffer under this new strategy. By pulling the larger Lakers farther from the hoop, Mike Brown might be ceding some boards to his opponents. Just as zone defenses can give up offensive rebounds, certain offensive strategies can reduce offensive rebounding opportunities. 

I would need to see more from the Lakers before coming to any conclusions regarding how this style might hurt their rebounding prowess, but it's something to watch out for. Los Angeles traditionally has boasted one of the best offensive rebounding teams, year after year. If Gasol and Howard are often cutting off-ball, far from the cup, that traditional advantage could erode.

In general, I believe the Lakers are doing well to move away from the Triangle offense. It's a strategy that has fallen out of favor in the non-illegal-defense NBA. With Phil Jackson retired, it's time to move forward.