Why the New York Knicks Should Embrace the Triangle Offense
Dec 16, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

It’s go-time for the falling New York Knicks to fully welcome Phil Jackson‘s successful system.

Whatever happened to the triangle offense you say? That’s right, the same offense that Tex Winters architected in the 1980s that current New York Knicks President Phil Jackson ran as head coach while he led the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to a combined 11 NBA championships in a 20-year span (1991-2010).

Yes, we know those teams featured some of the greatest players in NBA history in Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal but the offensive system they were in played an integral part in those players and teams being successful for all those years.

I keep hearing the triangle offense is outdated, or that style of doesn’t work in today’s game (where high screen-and-rolls, spacing and three-point shooting rules) or that it’s a dead offense now.

All those statements couldn’t be further from the truth.

How can a system be obsolete or past its time when a team with the same exact approach won a championship just seven years ago (2010 Lakers)?

People act like the triangle offense hasn’t had success in 40 years.

It produced a title just in this decade folks.

What I’m saying is these current Knicks — whatever the 2017-2018 edition of the team is going to look like — should implement the NBA’s most dominant and effective offense of the last 25 years full-time next year.

Why not? It can’t get any worse for the Knickerbockers.

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We’ve seen Jackson press on before about how he would like to see the Knicks run the triangle offense to the full effect or at least instill elements of the system into the offense.

I think the man who won 11 rings running this offense has a point. Players like Carmelo Anthony (if he’s in a Knicks uniform next year), Derrick Rose (same applies to him) and Kristaps Porzingis‘ games would surely benefit from what the triangle offense has to offer.

The triangle offense has always been predicated on involving all five players on the floor. Its foundation is creating proper spacing between players, dive cuts to the basket, plenty of off-ball action and hand-offs at the foul line or top-of-the-key. Additionally, down screens are set, which lead to opportunities to get free-flowing perimeter shots. Most importantly, the players need to read the defense and react instantly.

Players have the option to score or pass in an organized, systematic way — if ran correctly. It not only takes the burden off a go-to star or a ball-dominant scorer but utilizes role players with lesser skill, athleticism or talent and enables them to play huge roles in the team concept.

Ask guys like B.J. Armstrong, Will Perdue, John Paxson, Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Devean George and Sasha Vujacic what the triangle offense did for them.

The outlook with the triangle offense is that both perimeter-oriented players and big men can benefit from the offense.

While the triangle, to a degree, is complex, requires players with a high basketball IQ and is intimidating for players to learn and coaches to teach, Jackson said it takes patience.

“People will sometimes look at a team and say, ‘Those players won’t work in the triangle. The triangle won’t work here.’ And that’s so ridiculous,” Jackson says. “People just have this attitude about the Triangle, like it’s this pariah offense. That’s totally wrong. It just takes a little time.”

The triangle could take more pressure off Carmelo to score the ball and generate easier baskets for him, instead of trying to be an isolation player all the time.

Porzingis — with his tall and long figure — would be able to get good looking rhythm shots closer to the basket off hand-offs, face-up opportunities and on the elbow/foul line, as he continues to expand his range on his ever-improving jump shot.

Think of D-Rose taking a hand-off on the wing and immediately slashing all the way to the hole with his burst or even being able to read the defense so he could find teammates in certain areas on the floor.

All three of those All-Star-level players could thrive in this offense — if they’re willing to commit to it.

There are over 30 different options and variations that can come out of the triangle offense — if it’s run to perfection — that could benefit not just the Knicks but any team in the league.

I’m aware the triangle offense can be complicated to explain and requires a lot of thinking by players running it, but it still works. The widespread notion being thrown around that it doesn’t work in today’s age is a myth.

So, no matter who’s on the roster next year, embrace the triangle offense, New York Knicks. It might be worth your while.

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