With former 76ers head coach Eddie Jordan set to join the purple and gold as an assistant coach in the upcoming season, the new-look Lakers will have a new face on offense as well. Some call it "the backdoor offense". But it's more popular name is "the Princeton offense".
What is the Princeton offense exactly?
It's an offensive system that was refined by basketball Hall-of-Famer and former head coach of Princeton University Pete Carril which is based on constant player movement, passing, mismatches, and backdoor plays.
There are other factors that make this system work, but its general intent is to pressure the defense in constantly preventing mismatches while covering shooters and cutters.
You don't have to be an NBA coach or analyst to figure out that this type of offense in a team like the Lakers will be a nightmare even for the stingiest of defense in the league.
Of course, some might question what a motion-heavy offense could do to a starting lineup what will feature Dwight Howard as the only player below 30 or how such an offense that relies on the passing of a center with a career mark of 1.5 assists per game as the catapult to nearly everything this offense thrives on.
Well, the good thing about the Princeton Offense is it also requires the players to spread the floor before initiating the halfcourt offense and it isn't exactly a set-type of offense where it looks the same each and every time down the floor.
In other words, Howard should have plenty of space to dish the rock to cutting or wide open teammates or feeding the 7-ft. Pau Gasol under the basket. But more importantly, the Princeton offense operates on what the defense gives it — much like Phil Jackson's triangle offense.
This is the reason why Kobe Bryant is so enamored with the idea of Mike Brown installing such an offense for the new season.
According to Bryant in his interview with Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski last July, the Princeton offense takes the Lakers back to a read-and-react offense. The constant communication and movement on floor also prevents everyone on the floor from ball-watching. To Kobe, having an adaptive offense that requires everyone working together each and every second of the shot clock are the very fundamentals this Laker squad needs to return to championship form.
Hard to argue with Bryant considering his 5 rings are the direct results of an offense that shares many similar traits under Phil.
However, the Princeton offense isn't without its pitfalls.
Carril recently sat down with SI's Sam Amick. In that Q&A, Carril shared his optimism for the Lakers to flourish under Jordan's version of the Princeton offense. But he also threw in some cautionary tales that success on implementing the offense hinges on Howard's ability to react and execute what needs to be done in every situation as well as having the entire team buy into the system.
True. But with the level of talent and motivation of winning a title for this Laker team, persevering to make the Princeton offense work will not be a problem at all. Yes, it will sputter from time to time early in the season. But I expect things to go smoother later on.
Think about it. The Princeton offense is at its best when the collective basketball IQ of the 5 players on the floor is high. With Nash, Kobe, and Gasol, the Lakers boasts the smartest and best passing starting lineup in the league.
Behind such players that also have the experience of playoff basketball, the Princeton offense will be deadly in the Lakers' hands. But that is just one option on offense for Brown to utilize.
The Lakers still have 4 (5 if they give Metta World Peace the ball in the block a few times per game) players that demand a lot of attention. Having the complimentary presence of both Gasol and Howard near the rim alone is enough to give any opposing teams headaches. Add Nash's penetrating and shooting skills with Kobe's...well, we all know what he can do...you can understand why anyone who doesn't want to see the Lakers compete in the Finals again hope for anything that will derail this runaway freight train.
And do I even have to mention the type of pick-and-rolls the Lakers are now capable of doing?
Looking at the potential of what this team can do by January of next year at the latest, I think the rest of the NBA will be lucky to think that they're just dealing with a runaway freight train.
To help explain the the Princeton offense, Jordan and Eric Snow demonstrated the basics of the offense on NBA-TV 3 years ago. Watch the video below: