I used to be obsessed with the triangle offense when I was growing up watching the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan in the 90s. In fact, it's probably one of the reasons why I got into coaching, as I wanted to know everything about the triangle offense and ended up learning about all this other stuff. Anyways, I was watching the Lakers tonight against the 76ers and I made a point of looking for the triangle and I noticed a few subtle changes from the traditional triple-post offense that I was used to and implemented before.

Though most of the triangle offense remnants remain, the major difference I noticed was that the Lakers were not setting up the triangle by overloading the ball-side anymore. Most of their sets were run either from the top of the key or the wing. I took several clips of the various options out of this 'newer' version of the triangle offense. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

It's still the same triangle offense, just that the entry into the post comes from the wing or top instead. Now, I haven't watched enough Laker games to really know whether this has been happening for 1 game, 1 week, 1 month, or several years, but it is different from the traditional overload that I am used to and have taught before. I think this change works better for the NBA game because it's quicker to get into and creates better overall spacing. I've diagrammed a couple of the options from the video.

Give and Go, Hit the Cutter:

Other than the straight post up, which Andrew Bynum has been beastly lately, the next simplest play out of the triangle is the give and go. Again, notice how the new triangle offense no longer has the flare to the corner, the pass goes from top of the key to wing to post.

So, O1 passes to O3, O3 makes the post entry. O1 cuts to the hoop and O5 hits the cutter. In the clip Derek Fisher gets fouled.

Skip Pass for 3-pointer:

Next up is a progression and reaction to the defense. When the post-entry pass is made, there is the option of the post-isoloation, in this case with Bynum who can dominate his defender. O1 passes to O3 who makes the post-entry to Bynum.

At this point, O3 will cut to the weakside for spacing. If Bynum chooses, he can give it back to O3 for a quick shot. Once the isolation is established, Bynum can make a move and go. Now, O1 comes from the top and cuts to the basket, also as an option.

Now, the 76ers, seeing that Bynum will dominate them 1v1, decide to send help and X3 goes to double.

Bynum sees the double coming and in the corner of his eye sees O3 wide open in the weak side corner. He hits him for the open 3-pointer.


I ran the triple-post continuity a few years ago when I had a good passing post player. In hindsight, I probably would've switched to a high-post offense if I was coaching that team now. The traditional triple-post was a little confining with the overload and action going along the baseline, the high-post works better because you can use alot of the same concepts but the action is higher up and in the middle of the floor giving you more space. But I like what the Lakers have done with their triangle offense, bypassing that flare pass to the corner. With the personnel the Lakers have, I can see them making a deep run this year.

The innovator of the triangle offense, a version of the triple-post continuity is Tex Winter. For more on the triangle, you should look at Tex Winter's DVD on the Encyclopedia of the Triangle Offense. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.