Everything You Need to Know About the Triangle Offense


Without the triangle offense, what would we think of guys like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? Would they have been able to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy based on talent alone?

Ever since the arrival of Phil Jackson, the Knicks have been linked to running the system that turned him into an NBA legend. However, most fans are unfamiliar with the details of how it all works. Luckily, Max Marcilla answered some FAQs and gave us some facts about the ins and outs of an unbeatable system.

How do you set up the triangle offense?

The triangle offense is set up by having a “two-man game” on one side, featuring a post player and wing player. On the other side, there is also a player on the wing, in the corner, and in the post, forming a triangle.

how to set up the triangle

Diagrams A and B show the position of the players in the triangle, and Diagram C shows how the players move into it.

What kind(s) of players thrive in it?

There are a few players that thrive in the triangle system. First, scorers who do well in isolation can succeed in a triangle offense. In the system, spacing and ball movement are the two keys, but, in the event that a defense shuts the offense down for the first 20 seconds, the go-to play is isolation. Unlike other sets, the spacing in the triangle enables scorers in isolation to work their magic and score at high rates.

Others that do well in the system are post players, but not just forwards or centers. Even guards who can score in the post can score at high rates. In the system, there are no set “positions,” but rather two post players, two wing-men, and a corner player. That means that a guard, forward, or center can all play in the post, on either side of the triangle.

Phil Jackson was quoted back in early 2012 talking about how the NBA is moving away from an “interior game,” as the league transitions into a three-point shooting era.

“The game is evolving into a three-point shooting game.” Jackson said. “You can’t win a championship with a European offense, like what Phoenix has run for the past few years. But that seems to be the style people are copying. My issue with a team like Miami is always, ‘Who is going to score in the post?’ An interior game is still key, even if you don’t have a high-scoring center. Clearly, that’s what Dallas has with Dirk [Nowitzki], and that was the difference in last year’s championship series.”

Where did it originate?

Sam Barry, who coached at the University of Southern California, first established the triangle system. Tex Winter, who played under Barry at USC, went on to redefine the triangle. Winter was an assistant for current Knicks president Phil Jackson while he was coaching the Lakers.

Who uses it today?

There currently are no teams in the NBA that run the triangle offense.

Has it been successful?

Yes. Phil Jackson won 11 titles as a coach in his career, including six with the Bulls, and five more with the Lakers.

Are there any currently unemployed coaches that are familiar with the system?

There are no available coaches that have coached the system, but Steve Kerr, who is the leading candidate for the Knicks head coach position, played in the system in Chicago under Jackson.


Should the Knicks run the triangle next season? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

LIKE Turn On The Knicks on Facebook

FOLLOW Turn On The Knicks on Twitter

FOLLOW Max on Twitter

Be Sociable, Share!

4 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About the Triangle Offense

  1. They should atleast try it. If it works with the current players good if not go another way.It could work since no other team is using it which would mean no other team has practiced any defense against it. As far as I’m concerned any change is welcome until it doesn’t work.

  2. Since no one else is going to say it, I will!!!

    how about getting the Jackson’s together…
    they can be like the Jackson five with just two!!!!
    i think the to will make some beautiful music together on the basketball court. We have Phil,
    now all we need is Mark. the way i see it is that Mark Jackson is a proven coach, he took a team that went to the playoffs only once in the past 7 years. two out of three years they went with him at the driver seat.
    who knows we may even get a shot at getting Murry when he goes free agent…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>