Kobe Bryant talks all the time about the endless variety of options available once players fully understand the triangle. Easy for him to say, since he's already received a Ph.D in Three Sided Offenses. For those just working through their 100 level classes, there are multiple reasons the triangle can be tough to digest. Perhaps because the triangle requires newbies to recalibrate how they engage in an offense. Instead of more traditional, called sets, it works as a read-and-react system. There's definitely a learning curve, and as Steve Blake recently noted, with new players it's a challenge to get everyone reading-and-reacting to the same things.
There are other things making the triangle unique. Little stuff. Devin Ebanks talked about the footwork. Monday at practice, Luke Walton mentioned another, when asked what advice he'd give his new teammates in their educational process. "The most important thing is getting the terminology down. It's a reaction-type of offense, so if you don't have the terminology down, by the time it takes you to process to what [Phil Jackson is] telling you to do, you react and you're a second or two late already," he said. "After that, a lot of it is common sense, and going to what's open. He always says you can't make a mistake in the offense if you hit the open man or cut to the open area."
I asked Walton if, understanding he's working with a unique lexicon and because he's the type of guy who might, Jackson ever invents words just to screw with people.
"He doesn't make up words, but he definitely [messes with you]. We'll do four straight times where he'll call out second guard lag, fist side to a center opposite, counter action back to the guard on first time down, then come back and run [something else]. Like that, even the guys who have been here for eight years are looking at each other like, what the heck? Let alone the new guys, who look around like they're never going to figure it out."