Jeff Hornacek Will Be Challenged To Find Offensive Balance

Nov 30, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek against the Orlando Magic at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek against the Orlando Magic at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek has committed to bridging an uptempo offense with the triangle. Read a few keys to striking an offensive balance.

Jeff Hornacek has committed to meshing a faster pace with the triangle offense. While we’re only one game deep into the exhibition season, based on the preseason debut, Hornacek will be challenged to find a cohesive offensive balance between playing fast and setting up in the triangle.

It’s similar to a football team finding a balance between passing and running.

Breaking Habits

Players like Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and some of the other young players are developing their professional habits. Their youth is ideal for Hornacek as each player is like a sponge soaking in information. Players like Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, and Joakim Noah are veterans with established habits.

For Hornacek to develop this system with success, he will need to capitalize on some of the positive habits of the veterans and break some of the negative habits.

Within the first six minutes in Houston, Anthony isolated on five plays. One or two were good isolations, coming off of a swing, finding him deep in the post. The others were Anthony deciding to keep the ball. To Anthony’s credit, he’s been conscious of his isolation habits and averaged a career high in assists last season. Hornacek will have to convince Anthony to pick and choose his isolations.

Jennings has a habit of playing helter-skelter at times. While this is usually at a fast pace, it’s inefficient and breaks the rhythm of the offense.

Which Pace to Play and When?

I expected to see Derrick Rose push the ball up the floor by passing up the sideline looking for a quick post or easy lane to the basket. If unsuccessful, a swing to the opposite side of the floor looking for options on the secondary break.

If nothing is there, then move into the triangle.

Instead, two of the first three possessions went straight into the triangle. New York shot the ball with less than 8 seconds on the shot clock.

In the third quarter, the Knicks played with better pace. Passes were crisper and cuts were sharp. There was more offensive balance. The Knicks made 14 shots in the third quarter with 71 percent coming early in the shot clock or from penetration.

As a result, the Knicks offense looked smoother as they scored 35 points.

The Knicks were clearly better when they ran the offense at a faster pace. That pace may not always be to the benefit of the team. When they are in the midst of a rough patch, playing out of control or facing a strong defensive team that is solid in transition defense, the triangle will help settle them down.

Having a system of principles to fall back on is necessary. If practiced and comprehended adequately, those principles should naturally boil over to every facet of the offense.

Hornacek will need to teach the players how to effectively choose their spots during the game to utilize facets of the offense. If the players are not making the right choices, Hornacek will need to step in and make the call.

Jeff Hornacek Has A Team With Versatility

Hornacek has a versatile collection of players to work with this season. The starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Joakim Noah is balanced and should be able to play several different styles of basketball.

Based on Monday’s preseason game, the second unit primarily consists of Brandon Jennings, Justin Holiday, Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, and Willy Hernangomez. While unproven, this group will probably play at a faster pace than the starters.

Other lineups such as Rose, Jennings, Lee, Anthony, and Porzingis can be small, fast and put a lot of pressure on the defense. A lineup of Rose/Jennings, Lee, Thomas, O’Quinn, and Noah could be a defensive and rebounding unit. Hornacek has a plethora of weapons.

Hornacek will need to figure out lineups that will balance the offense, remain solid on defense, and execute the game plan.

Must Read: Realistic expectations for Joakim Noah in 2016-17

So Hornacek has a challenge ahead of him. If he can bring it all together, it could be a beautifully, efficient, and effective system. Can he strike the offensive balance? What do you think?

Let us know in the comments section!