Dancing With the Mamba
No, this isn’t an entry letter for Dancing With the Stars. Kobe Bryant still plays basketball and he does it very well.
This is just something that Lakers’ new acquisitions will have to do. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash have never played with a player like Kobe Bryant. This is going to be a huge factor in whether the Lakers can succeed or not.
Kobe Bryant has always been one of the most frustrating players in the NBA, to me. Whether that’s because of his iffy shot selection at the end of the game or the way that he reprimands his teammates after their play instead of keeping it in the locker room.
He’s always been a great player in his own right, but those are some of the things that make him frustrating to play with. I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. Check out this Lakers preview from our good friends at Court Bully.
He has a chance to play a smart game in 2012-13, and he has the intelligence too, but that’s what makes him so maddening, because I still think I will find myself shaking my head when he pounds his chest and shoots a bad shot over multiple defenders as the game draws to an end, or when he breaks the offense to look his own shot at the expense of his star big men.
At this stage in his career, Bryant has a chance to shoot one one of the highest field goal percentage’s of his career, right around his career marks of 46 or 47 percent, is he plays patiently and works mostly off the ball and in the post. There is no need for him to come close to shooting as many 3-pointers as he took last season (30 percent of five attempts per game).
Bryant tends to break the offense in late game situations and try to take it home all on his own. On a team with two–and what should be three–other All-Stars, that would be a mistake on Bryant’s part.
The argument that Bryant is the best creator at either guard position on the Lakers no longer exists. Bryant is now behind Steve Nash in that category and is no longer the best player on this team. Dwight Howard easily wins that title and its by a long shot.
Sure, at the end of the game the Lakers can go through Bryant as much as they want. He’s a great shot maker and has done it well late in games throughout his career. The Lakers just can’t get caught up in the hype and go that route every time.
Bryant can make this offense simple and predictable with his style of play. For them to succeed, he’s going to have to take that 23 shots per game down to about 15 -17. At the end of the day, he can still average as many points as he always has. It just won’t come with as much of a struggle.
Playing the Princeton Offense
We’ve already explored the Princeton offense a little bit here on What’s Left On the Floor so lets go back over that.
Before the acquisition of Howard, Bryant said that he wanted to run more of the Princeton scheme. The Lakers went out and hired former Wizards and 76ers head coach Eddie Jordan to do just that.
This offense will provide a structure to this star studded team that many thought that they lacked last season.
It’s going to feature plenty of four out, one in sets. They’ll look something like what is depicted below.
That means that they’ll have four guys spreading the perimeter–likely Bryant, Gasol, Nash, MWP–and will have Dwight Howard sitting on either the high post or low post.
The Lakers will have various wrinkles in this offense as well. I believe that they’ll be able to have two in and three out as well as four in and one out because of how great their bigs are as passers.
They’ll also be able to throw in some more wrinkles because of their players on the bench. They’ll have Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison coming off of the bench to spread the floor. They’re going to have plenty more shooting where that game from.
They’ll feature a lot of hard cuts to the basket and a lot of pinching the post. Pau Gasol is especially good at the dribble hand-off. Doing that from the high post and allowing Bryant to have a clear lane to the basket is going to be something that is a very productive play.
Steve Nash throwing it into Howard and setting a brush screen for Bryant from the corner and subsequently spotting up in the corner will be something that’s equally as dangerous.
Though cuts and hand-offs weren’t a huge part of the Lakers offense last season, Bryant was especially effective out of both of them. He averaged 1.26 ppp out of basket cuts and 1.16 ppp off of hand-offs according to Synergy Sports Technology.
Both of those should be more featured this season and will result in a largely more efficient offense for the Lakers.
The Lakers roster is all but set right now. They’ve obviously got their starting line-up figured out. They still have important positions to figure out like the back-up point guard position and their big rotation.
It took them until the end of last season to see what they had in Jordan Hill as a big and hammer out a final rotation. For the longest time, Brown would go from McRoberts to Murphy to Hill to McRoberts and some more musical chairs.
This season, I expect a lot more stability out of Mike Brown.
I also think that Brown will try to save Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for the playoffs. With the talent that his bigs have, they’re going to be able to save their perimeter plays a lot of time on the floor.
Brown is going to play the same way that Pop plays his veteran players.
Steve Nash- 30.5 Mpg
Kobe Bryant- 32.4 Mpg
Metta World Peace- 25.8 Mpg
Pau Gasol- 34.1 Mpg
Dwight Howard- 35.6 Mpg
Jodie Meeks- 23.4 Mpg
Steve Blake- 18.8 Mpg
Chris Duhon- 19.3 Mpg
Antawn Jamison- 22.8 Mpg
Jordan Hill- 25.2 Mpg
Earl Clark- 14.4 Mpg
Devin Ebanks- 17.2 Mpg
Andrew Goudelock- 20.3 Mpg
I think that the Lakers have enough depth to go to the Western Conference Finals and maybe remove the Thunder from their thrown. They’re going to have a cohesive unit on the floor every single night with an incredibly balanced squad.
They’ve got to be able to develop chemistry and play together. No one can go renegade or it will simplify their offense and make things much easier for defenses to read. This could end up being one of the more dynamic offenses we’ve seen in a while or it could blow up in all of our faces.
That’s what the entertaining part is. But on paper, it looks like Showtime is back, folks.