Can Los Angeles Laker Newbies Adapt to the NBA’s Most Intricate Offense?

The triangle offense.  The name alone conjures scores of perplexed looks and furrowed brows creating a general air of confusion.  In truth, it’s one of the most complex offensive systems used in the NBA. 

Synonymous with Phil Jackson, and the architect responsible for its development, Tex Winter, it’s a challenging but proven commodity.  One simply has to look at the Chicago Bulls, who won six championships using the triangle. The latest beneficiaries of the triangles nuances, the Los Angeles Lakers, have won five.

However, it’s not merely the name that causes a stir, but rather its implementation.  

The offense is predicated on the formation of a sideline triangle employing a center in the post, forward at the wing and guard at the corner.  With the other guard at the top of the key, the other forward sets up on the weak side of the floor in the high post creating a “two-man game.”

The triangle offense is read and react.  Fill your spot and the result is great spacing, allowing crisp passing and a variety of offensive options. 

Ideally this becomes second nature, something that Winters dubbed “automatics”—a state where the coaches don’t have to call plays because the players are so well versed in the triangle they simply read the defense and make the cuts and passes to counteract it.

Unfortunately for most players, this is heady stuff.  In fact, it took Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pippen (a dummy by no one’s standards), a year and a half to learn while playing for the Bulls.

As Sasha Vujacic explained, “The triangle is a two-guard front, so it’s a little bit different and difficult to learn, to learn (the) triangle takes a while.  Once you finally learn it, it goes smoothly.  There are just so many options.”

Therein lies the problem.  Option...

About the Author