I'm Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

I am not a great Basketball mind.  I barely understand the 'pick n roll', and outside of the obvious isolation play, I couldn't identify an NBA offense watching it on TV.  

But now we have the triangle, and I wanted to look into it.  Here is my beginners novice guide.


1 - The name comes form the triangle shape made by three players on the ball side - (the post, the wing, and the corner)

2 - Emphasizes spacing between offensive players (15-20 feet) - but traditionally overloads the ball side of the offense (if the ball is on the left side of the floor - 4 of the offensive players will also be on that side.)  The Lakers run a slightly different version that doesn't overload the floor - I'm guessing these are Kobe rules to get him more isolation.

3 - The triangle does not have set plays, rather it is reactive to the defense.  Players are supposed to be constantly reading the D, then moving accordingly to exploit the situation.  This is where the complexity comes in - a player must constantly read and recognize the D and then know exactly how to respond based on their present position.  There are clearly thousands of permutations and thus the high learning curve. 

4 - The triangle offense seems to emphasize picks in the low post - generally to open up a player streaking the baseline to the corner for a 3, or clearing a passing lane to the other post player.

5 - The triangle emphasizes post player passing.  I'd argue the triangle hinges on this.  The motion of the triangle is all about getting the ball to the post player (high or low) who then must make the critical read of the defense and react.  If working properly, the triangle will feed the post player - who then make 'the' play - either scoring himself or getting the assist. 

6 - The triangle almost always leaves a guard at the top of the key for defensive purposes - this guard is there to provide some resistance to any break away. 

7 - The PG role seems limited to three important variables - hitting a corner 3, the athleticism to constantly run the baseline, and the intellect to absorb the complex defensive read/react scenarios.  The last two skill sets seem universal to all players in the triangle.  I would argue the triangle de-emphasizes the point guards need to dribble drive, ball handle, set up plays, and picks on top of the key or the wings. 

8 - As far as I can tell, the Lakers (Phil Jackson teams) and Wolves are the only teams that run the triangle - although wikipedia says the Nets and Pacers dabble in it. 


So the history of the triangle makes sense to me.  Phil Jackson implemented the triangle as a response to the "Jordan Rules" of the Pistons - this was a straightforward shut down Jordan approach.  The triangle was put in place to get Jordan to give up the ball, trust his team mates, and foil "Jordan Rules" defense.  Lo and behold, this also worked with Kobe.  After watching LeBron James the past few years, and all the frustration he's had with teammates and the need to dominate every possession, I think he would benefit from the triangle.  (I think this begs the question, is it the triangle philosophy or Phil Jackson's player psychology that gets the super-star to share and trust his teammates?)


I think it's fair to say that the Wolves do not have the Jordan/Kobe/LeBron problem. 

A - The wolves do have 3 very talented PG's who excel in the things that the triangle offense de-emphasizes (ball handling, high picks, dribble drive, play calling/making).  I'm guessing all 3 PG's have the mental capacity for the triangle, Flynn and Sessions have the athleticism (Rubio, not so much), but none of them have the 3-pt shot needed (although that could be developed).  The triangle seems to de-emphasize a major Wolves asset - emerging to elite PG play.

B - The Wolves big men are a triangle mixed bag.  Kevin Love would seem the perfect triangle post player.  Very smart, excellent passer, but might get knocked for athleticism.  Al Jefferson is the perfect anti-triangle player.  Can't pass out of a double team, doesn't make reads, and no athleticism.  I don't think any of the other big men on the roster have the talent or smarts to make significant contributions to the triangle offense (Cardinal is smart enough, but lacks the talent - Hollins has the Athleticism, but little else). 

C - It goes without saying that the Wolves wing talent doesn't measure up either.  There is no Jordan/Kobe/LeBron talent to harness to the team. However, the Wolves wing talent wouldn't work for any offense, let alone the triangle. 


I like Rambis, but the triangle seems the wrong way to go.  A PG like Steph Curry would have made much more sense than Flynn or Rubio (although you can argue the Rubio pick made sense in any scenario since he'll always have high trade value).  The triangle also alienates and diminishes our best player - Al Jeff.  I've been saying the Wolves should trade him since last year, but this pretty much demands he be traded and diminishes his perceived value.  I believe Love will be great in the triangle, but I believe Love will be great in any offense. 

My preference for this team was to emulate the Hornets.  Have a PG centric team surrounded by really athletic guys.  I think the roster is in better shape to support that offense with the bevy of PG's, Hollins and Brewer providing athleticism, and Love (while not athletic) providing outlet passes, smart plays and rebounding.  Surely Love could emulate and improve on David West's undersized PF role - and better yet, Love is not undersized at PF.  My vision would still leave Al Jeff out of the equation, but I'd make damn sure early on to play the 2 man game with him for the first two months to establish high trade value then ship him out. 


My conclusion- The triangle stinks, the Wolves should revert to a two man game, trade Al, then run the rest of the year.

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