Should the Lakers use Staggered Screens?


In the aftermath of Dwight Howard’s first game in uniform for the Los Angeles Lakers many bloggers, NBA writers, and talking heads are wondering how much of the Lakers’ offense we actually saw yesterday.

Its only the preseason. I don’t think that they would give us any extensive looks at what they’re going to do during the season.

Sure, we saw Gasol to Howard high-lows a few times. We saw the Kobe and Howard pick and roll combo as well. They also used plenty of flex cutting–still–to get their bigs some pace in the post.

All of that was beautiful. They looked phenomenal as a unit last night. However, I thought that they could’ve done more things to create some cohesion between their starting five instead of giving us those beautiful plays in spurts.

Again, its only preseason and they likely aren’t going to pound their offensive staples so early. Especially in Howard’s first game as a Laker. But just to have some fun, I drew up something myself that I think the Lakers will use during the season.

I think the Lakers should run some staggered screens for Steve Nash–their best shooter. Not many people like staggered screens because of how unbalanced they leave the floor when being set up.

Sometimes that can lead to confusion, a broken play, and a loss of possession. But I think with the Lakers’ new personnel, this fits them perfectly.

Yesterday, we saw that Nash wasn’t exactly a factor in the game. He had five assists and four turnovers which is pretty dreadful for–All-Star or not.

He’s going to have to get acclimated to running off of the ball in this new Princeton look that the Lakers are installing. The staggered screens will make that easier for him.

We saw this play used in the 2010 NBA Finals with Dirk Nowitzki as the person using and setting the screens at times. It won that series for them.

Nash has just as deadly a shot as anyone in the NBA. Freeing him up at the top of the arch is something that the Lakers should want to do. It makes for an easy catch and shoot opportunity–something Nash will have to get used to.

Now, to show what I mean I have some drawings that I’d like to show. It shows how Nash will have an open look from this screen and the multiple opportunities for setup that he will have off of them as well.

Let’s start here.

Here you can see Howard and Gasol have set a staggered screen for Nash who is going to start from the low block. In this scenario Kobe Bryant has the ball at the top of the arch and feeds it to Metta World Peace on the wing.

After Kobe feeds him the ball, he moves to the other wing as Nash is using the screen to kind of create a rub effect for their defenders. After this, Nash will end up with a wide open three at the top of the arch.

Now, I know what you’re saying. You think that its possible for the defenders to switch off of each other instead of falling for the rub effect–which in essence is kind of a moving screen.

This is where the beauty of Nash not being a spot up shooter comes into play. Look at this next snap shot.

Here we see that MWP will feed Nash the ball at the top. Notice what the bigs are doing though.

Instead of staying stationary and letting the offense become stagnant and unbalanced, we’ve got Dwight Howard rolling to the low block on the left and Pau Gasol rolling to the elbow on the right.

Now with the ball in his hands, Nash has options. If he doesn’t have an open jumper its not really a problem.

Take a look at this next snap shot.

Here, Gasol comes from his spot in the high post–which is where he was primarily last night–and sets a screen for Nash.

This is something that we saw last night, but the staggered screen didn’t set it up. By now, because of the screen, the defense will be more on its heels than an ordinary elbow pick and roll.

Lets move on to the next shot.

Now, this is where it gets really exciting.

Here, all four players come into play. Nash’s defender isn’t going to know what to do because of the way he’s going to be forced to play. Nash is going to dribble to the elbow where Gasol has left.

Gasol will have popped to the opposite side of the floor and may be open for the 15 foot jump shot depending on how his defender plays. Dwight Howard will come closer to the rim to provide Nash an option there in case he drives and Howard’s defender comes over to help.

Nash’s defender will either have to play him for the shot or protect that passing lane where Dwight Howard is waiting to throw down. Both wing defenders will have to come over to provide help on Nash or Gasol and someone is going to be wide open.

This is how alley-oops are created, guys. This can be beautiful.

Now, of course the Lakers may never run this. This is just me having some fun with their offense and all of the toys that they have to play with. If I was Mike Brown, I’d be ecstatic.

This team is going to be a dominant one, obviously. But they’ll also be such a thrill to watch. Lets hope for a healthy Laker team all season long so we can see what kind of action they’re running in LA.


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