Breaking Down L.A. Lakers Offense Without Kobe Bryant

Seven seconds.

In the same amount of time you may have spent waiting for this page to load, Mike D'Antoni's offense can create a highly efficient look at the basket. It takes a natural floor general and a team-wide commitment to the system, but with the right players in place it's poetry in motion.

Last season, though, D'Antoni's Los Angeles Lakers offense seemed frozen in time. His prized pupil, floor general Steve Nash, took his dizzying passing talents to the wing where he often served as nothing more than a three-point threat.

The ball movement reached a near standstill and shortly thereafter, so too did most of the players. Everyone watched as Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard took turns in ball-dominant isolations.

Making Bryant the focal point of L.A.'s attack had some obvious benefits, but the team hardly looked lost without him. The Lakers' offensive rating dipped from 110.4 to 103.4 when Bryant left the floor last season, but their assist percentage jumped 10 points (from 56.7 to 66.7), and their defensive intensity rose (103.8 points allowed per 100 possessions without Bryant compared to 108.1 with him).

L.A.'s most effective two-man pairing last season, at least in terms of the plus-minus ratio, was the inside-out tandem of Nash and Howard (plus-3.6). Despite butting heads on the floor and Howard never fully committing to effective screening and finishing, Nash made more use out of his big man than any other player on the team.

The Lakers' second best dynamic duo was the reserve combination of Steve Blake and Pau Gasol (plus-3.0). Gasol's always been a productive player when utilized, and Blake scores well enough (both from beyond the arc and from the perimeter) to keep opposing defenses honest.

Bryant's most effective running mate was Metta World Peace. They registered a plus-2.6 rating together (tied for fifth among all of L.A.'s two-man lineups). For all his w...

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