Lets talk some offensive team strategy tonight, and compare the standard 1 point guard, 2 wing, 2 post players offensive philosophy vs the 2 guard front.
When you are committed to playing a true one guard front, you are forced to play a true ballhandler, a traditional point guard, at the front of your offense. Its that guards job to set the offense and "quarterback your team". Most teams set their teams up that way, because it allows a blending of roles in the other 4 spots much easier, and doesnt require as much imagination with your roster. Roles are easier to define when you set up your offense this way.
My guess is, that Donnie Walsh is a firm believer in playing offense this way. I say that because his entire tenure has been set up this way. he has had Vern Fleming, Michael Williams, Travis Best, Mark Jackson, and Jamal Tinsley. He has also hired coaches (except for Jack Ramsey) who shared this philosophy.....Larry Brown, Larry Bird, and Rick Carlisle among the most committed to it as I see it. There is nothing wrong with this thinking, as most teams try and play this way too.
However, there is another way to play, both in personnel and in strategy and alignment, and thats playing a 2 guard front. Now, Im not just talking playing 2 point guard at the same time and using one of them off the ball (like we use Sarunas, or like we used AJ sometimes in the past), Im talking about truly sharing the ballhandling responsibilities, and lining one guard at the right top, and the other parallel or above him on the opposite side of the floor.
This is a major characteristic of the Phil Jackson/Tex Winter triple post offense (it somehow got called the triangle somewhere along the line, but Tex called it the triple post long before then.) Thats playing 2 guard out top, usually 2 wings, and 1 post player playing in the center of the floor. This version or method of playing was much more popular in the bygone era of basketball, in the 60's and earlier. Tonight I wanted to make the suggestion that we need to look, starting next season probably at the earliest, of playing a 2 guard front, and suggest a few ways we can even do it sooner than that if we chose.
There are a million reasons why i think this adjustment needs to be made not just by the Pacers but my many more teams in the NBA, but Ill try and narrow it down to just a few.
1. It allows you to initiate your offense easier and faster, because the 1st pass in the halfcourt is easier and shorter. In a traditional set up, you need a really good guard up top to read the defense and take the ball to the side the play is supposed to go to. Its a tough job personnel wise to find a guy who can do that successfully and consistently, and not be a liability in other areas of the game. With a 2 guard front plays can be ran from either side, and in a more flexible free flowing manner.
2. It allows you to play your best players, because you dont need the true "point guard" in the game. You also can play players in a 2 guard front system that maybe you couldnt playing the other way, at least not as much or with as much responsibility.
With our team for instance, Sarunas nor Daniels really can handle the ball up front by themselves and quarterback a team against pressure defense. However, without the decision making part of the job on their backs (you initiate offense only on the side you are on, you dont need to choose), then they both could play in the backcourt playing in this way. The 2 guard front also lets guys who normally dont fit the size requirements of their skill set (think BJ Armstrong and Steve Kerr) play minutes and have a role.
3. It allows you to space the floor better, and give your post players more room to manuever. By having 4 perimeter players on the floor spaced out, you can space the floor and make the defense struggle to double team your post guys. For an example from recent past, think The Kobe/Shaq Lakers, and think about the Rockets championship teams.
4. It lets you move the ball from side to side easier. This is why Dr Jack believed in it so much....he wanted the ball swung and reversed, making the defense shift. Its easier to swing the ball because your passing angles are better, and you have shorter passes. It also sets you up for cutters from one side to the other, and for driving lanes created by ball movement. With our team, this probably sets up the skills of a slasher like Marquis or Marshall, and allows you to play more backcourt combinations (such as using Granger at the "2", my personal desire to go big with our lineup is well documented).
For in the future, I think the Pacers really need to look at a total revamp in how they play offense, because finding a good enough point guard is such a difficult thing to do, and they way we play a great pg is almost required to have any success.
If you dont like the "triple post" offensive scheme, or the regimented and patterns that it uses, thats ok, I understand. Im not necessarily suggesting that though, but I do think there is a way we can play this 2 guard front this year and get better offensively. And yes, I think we can do it and still play Foster, if we use 2 guards out front, use Foster as a screener along the baseline and in the post areas for JO and Harrington.
Regardless of how you do it, clearly I think the internationalization of basketball is swinging us back toward a revival of the 2 guard front. I think the true "point guard" will 15-20 years fron now will be an afterthought, as hybrid guards take over the sport. If we can recognize this and get ahead of the curve, I think we can beat some other franchises to the punch.
Id love to hear if many of you actually like the 1 guard, 2 wing, 2 post players way to play offense, or if how many of you (I know Jay does) likes the idea of a more retro "2 guard" offensive alignment. Nobody is right or wrong, its just a matter of preference.
Just my opinion, as always.