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“Why Don’t People Do More Things That Clearly Work?”, Basketball Edition

A couple days ago, on Grantland, Chuck Klosterman wrote a piece on the Triangle Offense, employed by coach Phil Jackson on his 11 championship teams. The main thesis is that the offense isn’t really that hard to learn or execute, is remarkably effective (11 titles!), and yet no one else is doing it.

It made me think about my other big conundrum about the NBA — Why don’t any NBA big men employ the sky-hook? Mastered by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it is perhaps the most effective offensive weapon in the history of the sport. It’s not a secret, or even a mystery — there is countless film of Kareem shooting the shot. It would take practice, but how would it not be worth practicing a shot that gets you, oh, 10 points a game? Kareem is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — why wouldn’t you model your game after him? Was he really that anomalous?

  1. The dunk is easier and the brute physicality, e.g. Shaq, energizes the mob-reduced mentalty of the spectators.

  2. I agree, i don’t know why more teams don’t run the triangle office, but in their defence the 11 titles that Phil Jackson won with the triangle offence was with some of the most talented squads in NBA history. I would be very surprised if the triangle offence would have done much for the Cavs last year.

    Also for a team like the Mavs it makes sense just to rely on the pick & roll because of the unique skillsets of Jason Kidd, Berea and obviously Nowitski

  3. Tara VanDerveer saw it worked and has been using the triangle offense with the Stanford Women’s team ever since. It isn’t a magic bullet, and as @Sean alluded, effectiveness varies with the ability of the players to execute.

    @BJMe is right on it – which is why many people will discount this comment when realizing it is about the women’s game. For the most part, women aren’t relying on brute force, so have seen post players over the years incorporating the sky hook into their game.

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