The triangle offense, the offense that has brought 6 championships to Chicago, and 5 to Los Angeles. But what is so special about this style of play? The offense involves a series of cuts and moving without the ball. It allows everyone on the team to get touches, and a chance to score. In this offense, all five players are on the court for a reason. It needs players who can shoot, and post up to get easy buckets in the paint. But in each of those 11 championships the offense is responsible for, the team had at least one bail-out guy.
In Chicago, that guy was a player by the name of Michael Jordan. In Los Angeles, that guy was Kobe Bryant. Ever here of them? The bail-out guy is the guy who when the team needs a bucket, or when the offense is stagnant, he is the guy they go to. Michael Jordan was the ultimate bail-out guy in any situation. One example of this is what many of us know as “The Shot” in game 5 of the Chicago Bulls’ first round playoff matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989. With 3 seconds left the Bulls needed a bucket, and Michael was the guy they went to lead them into the second round. This does not just apply to last second shots, but also times where the role players are not able to make something happen within the offense.
Just as any team running any offense, the triangle requires good players who can rebound, play defense, and score the ball consistently. This brings us to the New York Knickerbockers. With Phil Jackson at the helm, he has refused to run any other offense than the triangle. Can’t blame him, it brought him 11 championships. But after watching summer league, it appears that Derek Fisher, head coach of the Knicks, has tweaked the offense by incorporating more pick-and-rolls to satisfy his new, younger personnel.
The signing that intrigues me the most for the Knicks this off-season has to be Arron Afflalo. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were two-guards who can post-up, and shoot from just about anywhere on the court. Now by no means am I comparing Arron Afflalo to Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, but Afflalo seems to have the same skill-set as both Kobe and Michael. The only difference between the two greats and Arron Afflalo, is that they have a better shooting touch, and were more capable of scoring in bunches. The only thing the triangle helped Michael and Kobe in was their passing. They would average 30 points in any offense, but the triangle encouraged them to pass the ball and get their teammates involved.
Another player who thrived in the triangle offense for Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers was Pau Gasol. Gasol won two championships with the Lakers while playing next to Bryant, averaging 17.7 points on 52% shooting. Phil Jackson’s #4 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, Kristaps Porzingis, resembles Gasol in terms of his game, and weight class when he first entered the league in 2001 with the Memphis Grizzles. They both operate from mid-range, and both bang in the paint when needed. It is clear that Phil Jackson had Pau in mind when drafting the 7-foot Latvian, Kristaps Porzingis.
Then there’s Carmelo Anthony.
Carmelo Anthony will be considered an all-time great scorer by the time his career is over, and rightfully so. The triangle will only help his reputation because again, it encourages players to pass the ball more, which creates more assists, and more assists is something that Carmelo could use on his resume.
Carmelo Anthony has never averaged 4 assists in his twelve-year career. With more players who can spot-up, and shoot off the dribble around the scoring machine, he just might be able to hit the 4 assist mark this year. Other than that, the triangle will continue to give him more open shots, and shots in the pinch-post where he gets most of his points.