An elite center, an elite wing, with one of the flashiest point guards that the league has to offer? That sounds really, really familiar. When you think about it, the Lakers team of 2012 is very similar to some of the teams that they were dominating the basketball world with in the 80s.
Of course, Steve Nash isn’t the greatest point guard to ever touch the floor and Kobe Bryant is much better than James worthy. Not to mention the lack of a skyhook from Dwight Howard and also another 7 footer featured in Pau Gasol. However, the Lakers of the 80s could be the blueprint for these new Lakers that are looking to have the same success that the Lakers of past lore did.
When you have this many stars on your team, the concern is always how are the shots going to be distributed. Everyone on the team instantly becomes a ball-hog and will limit the rest of their teammates. Unless you’re a fan of one of these conceived super teams, you’ve probably had some of the same concerns–warranted or not. I’m one of the guilty parties here too–I’ve done this plenty. I did it with the Heat, I did it with the Celtics, and I’m doing it with the Lakers now.
I don’t know if Kobe Bryant will let Steve Nash run the show and I don’t know how things will look when the game slows down. In the half-court, who’s going to be the primary ball handler? Steve Nash isn’t a guy you want running off of the ball with all of his health concerns, but Kobe Bryant really likes the ball in his hands. Will he be okay with being relegated to only 15 shots per game coming off of pindowns, or will his thirst for the ball ultimately do the Lakers in?
These questions are probably overstated, but they are legitimate. So to answer them, I’d like to explore what I think the Lakers offense should be. Egos will need to be soothed and players will need to be appeased here. If that doesn’t happen, there could be some very real problems. So to pacify everyone, I think that the Lakers should run more. This should be one of the faster paced teams in the league–when I say that I mean top 10 in pace. Here is why.
When a team that has had Steve Nash as its point guard they are at their best when they’re running the floor. He’s never been a key component on a team where they’ve played most of their ball in the half-court. His team has been outside of the top 10 in pace twice in his career on Dallas teams where he wasn’t a key cog. Since winning his two MVP’s, Nash has been out of the top 5 of pace twice. Those two seasons were the last two–the worst of his Suns tenure. Nash is a guard that likes to play in the open floor. That’s where he’s at his best.
There should be a lot of quick hits and pick and rolls in this offense. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard will be deadly there, for sure. Should be lots of pick and pops between Nash and Gasol as well. Even some Nash and Bryant pick and pops. What will be most interesting is how they’ll use Kobe Bryant off of screening. Getting him open and easy looks at the basket will pacify him for sure and that’s what screening will do for you. Imagine Nash running pick and roll with Howard while you’ve got Bryant and Gasol working some pinball action on the weakside and then you insert any shooter for the corner three. That’s an open look all day, whichever option you choose.
Of course, when you need to slow it down you can give it to Bryant, but you can’t get too crazy with that. That’d be a mistake–easily ruining the rhythm of the team. They’ll need to establish where they’d like to attack at and stick to that plan instead of having any one player iso at any given time.
Playing in the open floor should cure all woes that the Lakers may have about sharing the ball. That’s what Steve Nash loves to do and in the open floor he’s one of the best passers. Its easier to find a position or get mismatches when coming off of a transition opportunity. There’s not a player in basketball who can’t do that. Those extra possessions and extra shots will have the Lakers winning games almost every time. The more possessions that they can create the better off they are. That means the game is going fast and it will be simplified–talent vs talent. The Lakers will win out 9 out of 10 times with that formula.
While there is no simple solution to forming an NBA offense, there will be a base to it. This is what I believe that the Lakers base should be. Faster play, more possessions. More possessions, more points. More points, more wins. Don’t worry about defense on the perimeter because Dwight and Pau have you covered.
With that formula, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA.