“Unfortunately, Shane hasn’t grown any since the start of the season.”
Those are the words of Phil Jackson as told to Charley Rosen, regarding new Brooklyn Nets guard Shane Larkin after the beginning of last season.
Though Jackson said he’d “stepped up” earlier in the year, he then referenced Larkin’s lack of development by the trade deadline. Larkin also had missed the previous two games at the time of the interview.
Larkin was restricted by Jackson’s famed Triangle offense, which positions the point guard at the top of the key as a safety valve and little pick-and-roll from that position. Larkin, who played primarily pick-and-roll (he estimated 60 to 70 percent at the pre-draft Combine) at the University of Miami, felt he did not fit well in the offense, and responded to Jackson’s comments thusly:
@adobk89 @MazzESPN couldn't grow in an offense I wasn't comfortable in. All good. No shade. Glad I'm across the river now. Wish them luck.
— Shane Larkin (@ShaneLarkin_3) July 27, 2015
Simple, plain, clean: the offense didn’t suit Larkin, and he was ready to play in a freer system.
Luckily, Brooklyn fits that mold: Lionel Hollins implemented a steady diet of pick-and-roll with Brook Lopez as the roll man last season.
Larkin will have to feed the big man if they share the floor. He’s not known as a distributor, but if he develops a chemistry with Lopez, his assist totals could spike. That said, Lopez will likely spend most of his time with Jarrett Jack, and Larkin’s role could be to get the bench players, like Thomas Robinson and Andrea Bargnani, involved.
Jackson made the comments as part of “The Phil Files,” an ESPN feature wherein Rosen interviewed Jackson one day a month throughout last year’s regular season.