Lakers head coach Phil Jackson runs the triangle offense better than anyone. The result has been 10 NBA championships with two different teams.
But this season, the Lakers have fallen to 11th in NBA offense after being third last season. If Jackson’s team has an Achilles' heel, critics would have to point to the team’s offense, a problem that has more questions than answers at this time.
The Lakers rank among the elite teams in the NBA. The team owns the top record in the Western Conference, has two All-Stars on its roster (Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol) and has won three of its first five games on its longest road-trip of the season.
Still, the Lakers have had their struggles. The team lacks a dominant point guard, has suffered significant injuries to key players and lacks a third option behind Bryant and Gasol in the fourth quarter.
Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown are the Lakers point guards. The 35-year-old Fisher provides a veteran presence and playoff experience, but has been inconsistent this season. Farmar and Brown have been two of Jackson’s go-to guys in the fourth quarter, but will they be able to handle the pressure of playoff basketball?
As far as injuries go, the Lakers have been the NBA equivalent of a MASH unit. Who knows if injuries will flare up and become a problem in the playoffs?
Last season, the Lakers relied on Trevor Ariza in the fourth quarter of many games. This season, his replacement, Ron Artest, has been on the bench in the fourth quarter in many contests. Players like Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom have contributed in the fourth quarter, but it remains to be seen if any Lakers player will step up consistently to be the third option behind Bryant and Gasol.
The Lakers have completed more than half of their schedule, and, even with their struggles at times, have a chance to finish as the top team in the NBA.
How the Lakers answer their questions on offense in the postseason will determine if they repeat as world champions.