When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns many people questioned whether Nash and Kobe Bryant could co-exist. Additionally many wondered if the Lakers offense would change to fit the needs of Nash, who has long been a possession dominant point guard, utilized best with the ball in his hands. Since the acquisition of Nash Lakers head coach Mike Brown, indirectly answering the questions of many critics, started to look into what type of offense he could implement to fit the needs of Nash. Hence the reasoning behind the addition of Eddie Jordan to the Lakers coaching staff.
Jordan brings with him a keen knowledge on the Princeton offense, which the Lakers will run this season, and it was because of this that Brown has decided to bring him on board. In an interview with Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles Mike Brown talked about how many of the sets that can be run out of the Princeton offense will fit perfectly into what Nash is used to running while in Phoenix, that is running the pick-and-roll over and over again.
Since the interview with Kamenetzky was pretty lengthy here is just a small excerpt of what Brown had to say about Nash, “The way that we’ll put it together, Steve’s going to have an opportunity — he’s going to quarterback the team — and so he’s going to have an opportunity to come down the floor every possession and in early offense play pick-and-roll if he wants to. “It’s up to him, based on where he decides to take the ball or a call that he makes or an action that he does, it’s up to him to get us into some of the looks of the Princeton offense.”
Brown went on to answer many more questions about Nash and, by reading the entire interview, what you can gather from it is that Nash will be allowed to have complete control of this years Lakers offense. Heading into last season a big question mark for the Lakers was whether they would be able to score enough to keep up with the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Miami Heat, judging by the Lakers early playoff exit we now know that the answer to that question was no, they cannot.
But now that Brown has seemingly decided to relinquish the offensive duties to Nash, whose offenses while with the Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns, led the league in offensive efficiency from 2001-2002, and 2009-2010, the Lakers offensive woes could soon be over. Nash has always been a master of the pick and roll and is now teamed up with the best pick and roll player in the NBA in Dwight Howard.
I don’t believe that there is any center, or power forward, in the NBA who would be able to contain an uberathletic Howard who, in most sets out of the Princeton, will be sprinting full speed from the free-throw line to the rim one-on-one. There may be one or two guys who have the strength to match up with Howard in that sort of situation, but none with the combination of size and speed that Howard possesses. In addition to the sets that will put Howard in multiple one-on-one situations, Nash will also be able to judge if the ball, instead of being fed into Howard in the low block, should be kicked over to Kobe in the left hand corner for a wide open three.
The reason why I say wide open three is because the way the Princeton runs, Howard will almost always be double teamed, with the help defense coming off of Kobe. Nash will also be able to have a few sets in which he can be selfish, cue the pick and roll, without a hedge defender nonetheless (the Princeton offense will again take care of this), and come off of the Howard, or Gasol, screen and take another wide open three. In case you were wondering, last season Nash was more efficient, and produced at a higher clip, than any Lakers player from beyond the arc, which was Matt Barnes. Last season the Lakers were 10th in offensive efficiency, something tells me that that won’t be the case this season. I fully expect the Lakers offensive efficiency to vault into the top 5 this season.
This upcoming season the Lakers offense will be put into the hands of Steve Nash, he will have the opportunity to make decisions on the fly, and he will be expected to make the right decision every time. Now I know running the offense correctly 100% of the time cannot be expected, but that’s what fans will expect. The 2012-2013 Lakers season will probably be one of the most pressure packed seasons for Nash as a point guard as he will, for the first time in a long time, hold the keys to a team that is one of the favorites to win the NBA championship.
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