The Los Angeles Lakers' first game was a travesty of offensive prowess. The only offense involved was what Dallas did to them and what Mike Brown did to the fans who paid for tickets. That offense was of the criminal variety.
There is no sense to this scheme. What the Lakers did is akin to if the Denver Broncos had asked Peyton Manning to run an option offense after they signed him. It makes no sense to go out and get Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the two ends of the best pick-and-roll in the NBA, and then not use the pick-and-roll.
Of all the things that looked strange, the strangest of all was seeing how out of place Nash looked on offense. Nash was put in the unusual position of watching the game and playing off the ball way too much. Here he looks lost as Pau Gasol finds Dwight Howard for the finish.
Here he watches Kobe Bryant as he goes an entire possession without touching the ball.
There were countless instances like this in which Nash looked out of place without the ball in his hands. He simply doesn't know how to play any other way. There was one awkward moment where he put out his hands as though to receive the ball from Kobe Bryant and take it up court, but was shrugged off by Bryant.
Nash proceeded up the court as though he didn't have clothes on. Nash needs the ball to be Nash.
That's not to fault him. It's only how he's established a Hall of Fame career. Again, imagine the Broncos asking Peyton Manning to run the option and seeing him get lost as he keeps going around the end and pitching the ball to Willis McGahee. It would make zero sense.
Why go out and get Nash and Howard and then force them into a system that doesn't work for them?
Here is what Steve Nash is supposed to look like. Note how much easier it is for him to make a play with the ball in his hands.
It seems overly simple to say "the best way to maximize Steve Nash's talents is to let him run the offense," because it is so painfully obvious that you wouldn't think it needed to be said. Sadly, it does. Why else would he be standing around watching so much of the game last night?
The Princeton offense is literally designed for teams with lesser talent to compete with teams with more talent. It slows the game down by passing the ball and waits for the defense to break down. It's useful for when you have players that can't break down the opposing defense.
When you have two of the best in the history of the league at breaking down defenses, though, it makes no sense at all.
It's as though Mike Brown fell in love with Pau Gasol's passing ability and for whatever reason decided that was the way to go on the offense. Certainly Gasol is one of the best passing big men in the league, but there's no reason for him essentially to be making more decisions than Nash.
And what's really, truly sad here is that Nash has his best weapon ever that he could be using in the pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard's points-per-play average in pick-and-roll sets was the best of any starting player in the NBA last year at 1.36, and he shot an outright disgusting 74 percent.
The beauty of the pick-and-roll is that's it's relatively simple. The Lakers don't need to worry about a complex offense with all kinds of tricks and variations. They have Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
The things that make Nash so great are his vision and his brain, as well as his skill set. Again, the analogy to Peyton Manning is fair, because if you were to take away the audible from Manning he wouldn't be nearly as successful. It's his brain, not just his arm, that makes him great.
The pick-and-roll puts Nash in charge. He's able to read the court and make decisions, and most of the time they're the right decisions. When you take the ball away form him, you take away that ability.
For Mike Brown to maximize the players he has, he must abandon this Princeton offense nonsense and allow Steve Nash to be Steve Nash. Let him push the ball up the court. Let him make decisions. Let him feed the ball to Howard directly.
If that happens, this offense will be positively explosive. Until then, it will just look like it exploded.
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