To Good To Be True?
Hearing word last summer that Steve Nash inked a contract to play for the L.A. Lakers was like a dream come true. As a huge Nash fan and a diehard Laker follower since the Showtime Era, the combination was parallel to that of peanut butter and jam.
Imagine, Kobe Bryant playing with his first real pass-first point guard (no offense Fish), and the lobs that Dwight Howard would finish — all care of BC’s finest. Add to that the bringing in of Mike D’Antoni and the system in which Nash flurished.
Unfortunately, as followers know, such did not really pan out as planned.
Riddled by injuries and lack of chemistry, the Lakers struggled to grab a playoff berth in the tough Western Conference. While Nash has only played two full seasons in his 17-year career, he has been good for at least 72-78 games per season.
The other component, team chemistry, has been a staple for Nash-led teams since he entered the league in 1996 — even the less talented Phoenix Suns teams of the last few years.
Looking at Nash’s stat line last year of 50 games (12.7 PTS, 6.7 AST), it was not quite what Lakers fans or Nash expected when he donned his purple and gold No. 10 jersey. ONLY 6.7 ASSISTS?!?!?! We are talking about a man who is within 100 assists of third all time in NBA history….EVER!
Yes, D12 is now in Houston, and the timeline for Bryant to return from season-ending injury is anywhere between the start of the season and the All-Star game; but there are still optimistic fans (me) who think that the Lakers have a chance to at least compete for a playoff seed in 2014 (or they can completely tank and go for Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, but that is a different story).
First off, the Lakers and D’Antoni have to figure out what offense they are going to run.
Yes, Nash has had previous success in Mr. Pringles’ system, but that was with less mileage on soon-to-be 40-year-old legs.
Nash has been known around the league for his high level of fitness and conditioning. Combine that with his court vision and passing ability, and maybe the Lakers’ offense could see a little more run and gun…..periodically.
Will Nash have the ball in his hands more with Kobe on the IL? For sure, and that should result in a more flowing offensive attack.
If you look back at what Nash had to work with in Phoenix during his last couple of years (Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat), the Lakers’ current roster isn’t that far off (or so I keep telling myself). In 2010-11, the Suns finished 40-42 with that roster! Last year, regardless of Nash’s pedigree, Bryant dominated the ball (surprise?!?!) making Nash less of a point guard and more of a forgotten spot up shooter.
This year, look for Nash to get back to the style of play that made him so desirable for the Lakers last summer.
Last year, expectations of unworldly pick and rolls (read: lobs and dunks) between Nash and Howard never really materialized. This year, look for Nash to team up with Pau Gasol, who may not finish with the same flash and athleticism as Howard, but will be more effective with his ability to either roll to the hoop or step out for the mid-range jumper.
As one of the few 50/40/90 shooters in league history (there are six members in this exclusive club….Nash being a four-timer!), Steve will need to step up and look to fill some of the scoring void left by Howard and Bryant. Even when Kobe does return, he may not be as prolific as in previous years (though that may not stop him from jacking shots anyways).
When all is said and done, fans are pulling for Nash to have a successful season; one that statistically would see him average between 13 and 15 points, 8 to 9 assists and play in 70-75 games.
Ideally within his last two years, he’d have an opportunity to capture a championship ring; however, by the looks of the Lakers’ current roster situation, he may end up joining Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton and Patrick Ewing as NBA greats that fell short of planting the flag atop the mountain.