It was a huge deal when Phil Jackson came to the New York Knicks and got everyone excited when he wanted to institute the triangle offense. 

Since his signing with the franchise, that system hasn’t been run efficiently, and the likelihood of that happening is slim. Jeff Hornacek, the Knicks’ newest head coach, is open to running the triangle but not making it a huge part of the offense.

Isaiah Thomas, the All-Star point guard from the Boston Celtics, took a jab at the division rival by dismissing the triangle’s productivity without superstars running it.

“I just think if you don’t have Kobe or Shaq or Michael Jordan, the triangle doesn’t work,” said the 5’9 guard to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Thomas was coached by Hornacek when he was a member of the Phoenix Suns, and that team thrived because of a quick pace that led to a bevy of scoring opportunities.

For IT to say that you need a superstar to run the triangle proficiently, he’s correct. It’s such a complex system that involves multiple high IQ players who have the talent to boot. Essentially, it’s a motion offense where players occupy five spots on the court and make cuts based on the defense’s reaction.

Superstars make the triangle easier to run because so much energy is focused on them. Jordan, as supremely talented as he was, was tremendously intelligent and a willing passer–for the first three quarters, at least.

It was a bit different with Shaq and Kobe. Having both a post presence and a perimeter presence significantly impacted how opponents defended the triangle. If they doubled on Shaq, he’d kick it to wherever the second man came from, usually the free throw line or the strong-side wing; if the Diesel was left alone, it was bar-b-que chicken.

The Knicks don’t have that.

Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis would be able to work fine in it, but the point guard is where the problem lies.

With Brandon Jennings and Derrick Rose at the point, New York is extremely limited in the halfcourt. However, that’s why Hornacek is tweaking the system. The Knicks want to get their two guards going downhill as often as possible, whether that’s in transition or a high pick-and-roll.

Through the preseason, the Knicks have gotten into the triangle a couple of times a game, but nothing spectacular has come out of it. By season’s end, don’t be surprised if they run it at all.

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