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What if Steve Nash played in the triangle?


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#1 J-H!zZl3

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 11:49 AM

I know we don't know for sure if PJ is coming back to coach this team but nonetheless, let's discuss how Nash could be used in the triangle and whether or not he would be a good fit. A couple of years ago Brian Shaw gave his insight on the subject.

It's commonly said the triangle offense doesn't require the services of a "true" point guard. Certainly over the course of his 11 championships, Phil Jackson hasn't made a featured player out of any of those at his disposal, and most have been atypical compared to the ball-dominant, lightning bug types generally featured around the league.


That's how it's been, but why? Is it a chicken/egg deal, where P.J. hasn't made stars out of his point guards because he hasn't had star caliber players to choose from, or does the triangle truly favor Ron Harper/Derek Fisher/B.J. Armstrong types? With Phoenix on the docket for Friday night, I asked Brian Shaw Thursday at practice what would happen if they dropped two-time MVP Steve Nash into L.A.'s system.


"It would look the same," he said. "[Nash] would probably explore things differently than some other guys that we typically have out there. There are certain areas of the offense- for instance that Kobe [Bryant]manipulates to get himself at the elbows or down at the post to take advantage of his size or his athletic ability over his defenders. Somebody like Steve Nash can put himself in situations where he could create more screen and roll. We have everything that he's running in Phoenix, or in Dallas and the teams he's played for, we have the ability to do that out of our offense. We don't, because we don't have that type of player. But if we did, we would just incorporate those aspects of it for someone like him."


Q: So it would be a question of him learning the spots in the offense where he could best work a two man game, or find a driving lane, or whatever?


Shaw: "Exactly. Lamar [Odom], for instance, with his size and his ability, the way that he plays when he's in the game with Pau [Gasol] is different, because we put him out at the guard position. So he plays differently when he's bringing the ball up, than he does if we had him at a wing or a typical position that you'd have a 6'10" player. That was just another way the offense was manipulated to use his skills to the best of our advantage."


Q: Some people will say there's such a thing as too much point guard in the offense. Would you agree?


Shaw: "In respect that we don't even use the term. We call it a lead guard, because when you think of point guard, it's at the point. This offense is run with a two guard front. It gives you the luxury of not having to draft or go after that kind of guard, that's going to dominate the ball. Because in this offense, 80 percent of the time you're playing without the ball. So some players, it may frustrate them. I don't know how Chris Paul would work, for instance, because he likes to have the ball and direct all the time, and that's not something that this offense really [allows]."


Q: But Nash dominates the ball in that offense, as well.


Shaw: "For sure. It could work. But you don't have to feel like you have to get a player like that in order to get the offense to move."


Q: "In the end, a more prototypical point guard would have to adjust his game?


Shaw: "Yes."


Obviously this is an exercise in the hypothetical, because the Lakers are extremely unlikely to add any sort of ball dominating superstar PG for the next couple seasons at least. Doesn't make the hypothetical any less interesting, though.



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#2 MDI

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 11:51 AM

It worries me a little bit especially since we saw what happened to Gary Payton under the triangle. I hope Phil lets Nash run loose a little bit

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#3 L.A.K.E.R

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:00 PM

The triangle offense is a very adaptable system that can adjust to the personnel at hand. Phil ran it in Chicago through his wing duo of Jordan and Pippen, then came to LA and ran a more post-centric version featuring Shaq as the focal point. Both were completely different set-ups but made use of the basic principles. There's no doubt that Nash would be able to adjust to that system, especially with Phil making the necessary tweaks to accommodate him. Steve Nash isn't only one of the best playmakers, but also one of the greatest shooters of all time. It's not nearly so rigid as some people might think where a true PG would have issues with it.

The Gary Payton experiment left people with that notion, but Payton was both a shell of himself and never a good fit for us. To excel as a PG within the set-up we had, a PG had to be able to shoot and Payton was never that great of a shooter through his entire career. There would be more of an adjustment if we picked up a guy like Chris Paul since his entire game is based around playing with the ball in his hand (isolation, shooting off the dribble, etc.), but Nash is different because he's also the best shooter at his position.

I wouldn't worry about Nash adjusting to the triangle if Phil were to come back. Phil is smart enough to make the necessary adjustments offensively where we'd need them and he'd be more than willing to let Nash freewheel with PnR for portions of a game. Phil isn't Mike Brown; he won't forgo the chances for easy offense just to grind his players through the system. He's not nearly so rigid with the system as some might think, it wasn't triangle or bust for any of our championship runs. Nash should be fine.

#4 iDreamShake

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:06 PM

great thread, great lead post/article.. im not too concerned because we have run alot of pick n roll in the triangle, and we will run even more of course... what scarred me is BShaw said Chris Paul wouldnt fit too well in it, well, Nash isnt much different(playing style wise)

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#5 last stand 2.0

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:07 PM

payton's issue was being a poor shooter. Nash will be able to play some pick and roll, but his shooting will be the most important asset.

dwight and kobe are the best players, they are our main guys, the most important guys. Nash's needs aren't as important as kobe and dwights needs.

Nash will be a floor spacer who runs the break and pick and roll in moments when the triangle breaks down.
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#6 iDreamShake

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:10 PM

payton's issue was being a poor shooter. Nash will be able to play some pick and roll, but his shooting will be the most important asset.

dwight and kobe are the best players, they are our main guys, the most important guys. Nash's needs aren't as important as kobe and dwights needs.

Nash will be a floor spacer who runs the break and pick and roll in moments when the triangle breaks down.


i HATE your last sentence with all my heart(always like ur other posts,tho). Nash isnt showtime Nash anymore, and he needs to run the pick n roll alot more than that,,,but i think he will..

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#7 RayRay

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:10 PM

Good thread
I think with Nash you cannot just run the triangle.
We should explore the pnr and certain sets that allow Nash to be Nash
Limiting Nash to the triangle would be pointless

I'm sure the next head coach will not just run the tri
only Kobe can stop Kobe.

#8 last stand 2.0

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:15 PM

Shaw is basically saying the offense allows you not to NEED a PG, not that it can't USE a PG, or that a PG can't be successful in it
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#9 J-H!zZl3

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:34 PM

Shaw is basically saying the offense allows you not to NEED a PG, not that it can't USE a PG, or that a PG can't be successful in it


Which is always what I thought. The triangle wasn't dependent on a pure or ball dominant PG in order for you to be successful. But that didn't mean that a pure PG wouldn't be able to flourish in the system. The Lakers never had that type of point guard, so we are used to seeing a spot up shooter playing at the 1.

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#10 Cj2008nw

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Posted November 10, 2012 - 12:37 PM

I put 100% faith that Phil will be able to accommodate for Steve Nash never doubt Phil!!!

#11 GCMD

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Posted November 11, 2012 - 11:22 AM

Shaw is basically saying the offense allows you not to NEED a PG, not that it can't USE a PG, or that a PG can't be successful in it


I disagree. What Shaw said was any PG could NOT play to his strengths in the Triangle. It's just not possible. Prototypical Point Guards are ball dominant, create plays for others and are at their best when the offense is run THRU them. That's not my observation...that's fact.

Nash is as prototypical as you're going to get at the PG position.

Nash would have to un-learn everything he has honed and perfected in his game for his entire career.


Ok..he's a great shooter...off the dribble. He's not a set shooter...doesn't mean he can't hit a wide open J but his reputation comes from him creating his OWN shot, shooting in rhythm, not waiting on a pass out to the wing.

Real shooters know there is a HUGE difference and that takes time to adjust.


Nash in the Triangle is not ideal. Nash, without the ball in his hands, is a mediocre player. He's a jump shooter at best. Could he have learned to run the Triangle? Yes. But at 39?

The best thing we could do for Nash is trade him. He could work in the Triangle but asking him to do so is selfish. We'd be forcing him to give up his identity to become what we want, which is NOT worth 8mil/yr.


Now, if this team decides to let Nash run at will, use P&R and THEN use the Triangle for half-court, that could work. Going with the strict incarnation/Triangle Sets and letting Nash languish? As a basketball fan, that's appalling to even consider. Nash makes basketball fun when he's given the greenlight. No-one or Offense should take that away from him or the basketball world. I speak as a fan and as a PG. It would be like cutting off one of his fingers or hands.

To think that putting Nash in the Triangle is as easy as him "adjusting" is naivety at best and apathy/indifference at worst.

#12 West Coast

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Posted November 11, 2012 - 12:10 PM

One of the persisting concerns about Mike Brown’s Princeton-based offense involved whether it constricted the Lakers’ immense talent.

Among the criticisms: Steve Nash couldn’t run pick-and-roll as much; the Lakers looked more confused on offense trying to understand the various reads and counters; the Lakers started the plays too late in the shot clock.

Even though Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak didn’t criticize the offense directly, he admitted the Lakers’ general confusion and inconsistent improvement played a large part in the team’s 1-4 start and Brown’s ultimate firing.

Should the Lakers hire Phil Jackson in what would be his third head-coaching stint with them, would the players experience a similar learning curve with the triangle offense?

“Are you doubting the Zen Master?” Kobe Bryant asked.


Bryant has a point. Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake have already played for Jackson. World Peace experienced learning curves when the former Ron Artest joined the Lakers in the 2009-10 season, but that amounted more to adjusting his offensive role than knowing the concepts. More importantly, Jackson’s triangle offense features plenty of pick-and-roll sets that would tap into Nash’s playmaking abilities.

Jackson’s triangle offense didn’t require his point guards to handle the ball much. It’s why Derek Fisher’s point guard weaknesses didn’t matter too much within the system. But the offense caterss to specific player skillsets. And when it comes to Nash, he could run pick-and-roll all he wants in the triangle so long as the Lakers have consistent ball movement, spacing and player movement. One element that could make the triangle offense easier for Nash than the Princeton-based offense: he wouldn’t have to decided at the beginning of the play which set would run. The pick-and-roll sets would work within the framework ahead of time.

Meanwhile, Dwight Howard should have no problem picking up on the triangle considering the center spot is considered the easiest position to learn in that system. The Princeton-based offense pulled Howard away from the basket and exposed his poor passing skills. The triangle offense, which is also called the triple-post offense, emphasizes frequently for players to operate in the post and give frontcourt players plenty of touches. That enables the proper spacing and ball movement the system emphasizes.



#13 Majesty

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Posted November 11, 2012 - 02:40 PM


I will say it was Nash's choice not to run Pick and Roll as he had the opportunity to run it each time down the court.


The triangle however is a less complex version of what we were trying to do with the Princeton so it wouldn't take Nash as long to learn it so he'd probably turn on the Pick and Roll earlier than he would have under the Princeton in terms of if he still wants to wait till he learns it.

In all honesty, sitting out was great for Nash because he gets to rest his body AND watch his teammates tendencies.

Edited by Majesty, November 11, 2012 - 02:40 PM.

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#14 TKainZero

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Posted November 11, 2012 - 02:59 PM

I always though Nash would be a great PG for the triangle...

He can hit the open 3 point shot... Which is pretty much the main responsibility for the PG in the triaangle

#15 5thDroog

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Posted November 11, 2012 - 05:36 PM

One thing that matters to me is it would be great running the triangle with a point guard that can actually hit shots from the outside consistently. Jesus, from Fish, to Farmar, to Blake. All of them were/are all inconsistent.




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