Lakers Rumors: Jerry Sloan's Pick-and-Roll Offense Fits Los Angeles' Rotation

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 10: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with head coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz after Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2010 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

If Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown had been Jimi Hendrix's manager, he would have only allowed him to play two chords.

Brown's Princeton offense relies on continuity, taking the ball out of Steve Nash's hands and diminishing almost all of the virtuoso's creativity.

The attack makes no sense with a wizard-like distributor like Nash.

Nash excels in the pick-and-roll format. It allows him to run the show, make all the choices and find the open man when a hole opens up. He's incredible with the ball in his hands, but Mike Brown prefers to take the ball out of his hands more than necessary because that's the offense he runs.

If Brown prefers to run that offense, that's fine. Perhaps he should run it elsewhere. The Lakers didn't add Nash to be anything but what he has been for his entire career, and that's not going to happen in Brown's offensive sets.

According to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy, one league source believes a different coach will man the sidelines in Los Angeles sooner rather than later:

"Jerry Sloan to L.A. by December 1," one league source predicted. "Nash and Howard are the new Stockton and Malone. He wants a ring, not to mention the money. He didn’t seriously consider Orlando, Charlotte or Portland [openings] over the summer because he knew Los Angeles would open up."

Sloan would be too perfect. Not only does he have the experience, but the pick-and-roll offense he ran for over 20 years in Utah would fit Los Angeles' rotation like a glove.

Check out this video of legendary point guard John Stockton:

Stockton and Nash are extremely similar in terms of skill set. The former Jazz point guard was the master of creativity as Sloan's floor general in Utah.

The pick-and-roll is on full display on multiple occasions—specifically, at :58, 1:35, 2:20, 2:30, 3:28 and 4:24. Most of the time, he's running it with former All-Star Karl Malone, making you realize how easily Dwight Howard, or even Pau Gasol, could fill that same role.

It's too obvious. There's so many things you can do with it, and Nash has the same type of basketball brain that Stockton did. He's always thinking two or three steps ahead, and the Princeton offense handcuffs him. 

The play at the 4:24 mark sticks out to me the most because it's different and shows the offense's versatility. Rather than set the screen, the screener fakes it, slips it and finds himself wide open on his roll to the hoop. Once the third quarter hits, and you've run the same pick play 15 times, that's going to be open every single time.

With Howard and Gasol, the Lakers have an embarrassment of riches for this offense. Howard would be dominant while rolling to the hoop. He's faster than most guys he matches up with, allowing him to get ahead of his trailing defender.

Gasol, on the other hand, is more versatile. He could roll to the hoop or he could run a pick-and-pop scenario. Since Gasol is such a good passer himself, that would open up even more options.

Some might wonder what happens to Kobe Bryant in this scenario. I don't want to say he becomes the Lakers' version of Bryon Russell, because that's just insulting, but it would allow him to take more of a backseat. This wouldn't make him any less dangerous in the offense, but it would allow him to keep himself fresh for a longer period of time.

Los Angeles has one of the best frontcourts in the league and one of the best distributors this league has ever seen. The team's makeup is extremely comparable to Utah's teams throughout the 1990s, especially when you look at the star players available to Sloan each time around.

Assuming Nash gets healthy again, the Lakers must use their new point guard wisely. Otherwise, you picked him up for no reason at all.

Sloan understands how to do that. He has the offense for it, and he has the experience doing it. If Los Angeles doesn't start winning games, we may find out just how well his system fits soon enough.