The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans were given a fantastic present this offseason. It was one of the top-5 basketball players in all ze world. To make things even sweeter, or worse if you’re a Spurs fan like myself, Steve Nash materialized out of thin air in Forum Blue and Gold, giving Los Angeles one of the most talented rotations in the league.
Despite my hatred for all things Laker, there are some interesting aspects at play with this group. Jared touched on some of the work Kobe Bean Bryant is could do/should do when he’s not the primary focus on offense earlier in the week. Today, we’re going to look at the goods from the previously-mentioned hijackings and some interesting action they’re producing on the floor.
A lot of the offense the Lakers ran against Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the first game for Dwight Howard in Laker colors, began with a 1/5 pick-and-roll on the left side of the floor. In fact, Dwight Howard got his first points for LA in this set run to perfection. Only there’s a twist. Instead of Nash coming off the pick from Howard and getting the ball down low, the Lakers threw in a wrinkle involving Pau Gasol.
It’s really not fair. The roll by Dwight sucks in Gasol’s (situated at the opposite elbow) man. When Nash sees that he hits Pau, who recognizes immediately that Howard is open for the lob. Gasol is one of the best passing big men in the league and Howard might be the best finisher in the entire league. It was all by the book at that point.
The Lakers tried it again a few minutes later, though the results quite weren’t as good. As I said on Tuesday: It’s preseason, lower your expectations. For the Lakers, the process was still adequate.
The lob to Howard is a fairly quick-hitting play; it comes early in the offense. So what happens if the defense overplays and takes away the roll from Howard? Well, you have Gasol available to knock down a mid-range jumpshot if it’s open. But the Lakers also demonstrated some patience with the 1/5 pick-and-roll and worked the defense to get other shots.
On this play, Nash goes away from Gasol, but still hits him at the elbow (the pass could’ve been better). The lob to Howard isn’t available, so Gasol swings it to Kobe on the opposite wing and Howard fights for post position down low on the ball-side block. Howard draws a foul in the lane and goes to the line.
On this final play, Nash drives off the pick and kicks to the ball-side wing to Devin Ebanks. Antawn Jamison, at the opposite elbow, is in the game for Pau Gasol at this point. On the roll, Howard again fights for position down low and Ebanks makes the entry pass. Howard is stripped on the play.
With good spacing, the Lakers have a lot of options with the simple 1/5 pick-and-roll. Howard is such a big threat on the roll that the defense can get sucked in easily. Nash is a great point guard who recognizes where the ball should go based on how the defense is positioned. It’s one of those pick-your-poison type of things.