Steve Nash finally returned to practice for the Los Angeles Lakers today. While he still feels soreness, a return to action next week is becoming more and more likely. During the horrible stretch of Laker games when things seemed to go from bad to worse under coach Mike D’Antoni, many fans debated about whether a Steve Nash return would fix things in Laker Land. Some say that the same problems will still exist with or without Nash, while other believe that he will help turn things around.
I’m someone who believes that Steve Nash will definitely turn things around for the Lakers. His knowledge, passing ability, and complete understating of D’Antoni’s system leads to 5 different ways things will get better once he is back on the basketball court.
What!? Defense!? Yes, defense. In no way, shape, or form am I stating that Steve Nash is a good defender, but I do believe that a good offense can help cure things on the other end of the court.
The biggest problem for the Lakers right now is transition defense. This problem is a result of taking low percentage shots and turning the ball over. It becomes extremely challenging for the Lakers to get back on defense when these things happen on offense against a young athletic team.
Steve Nash is a master of D’Antoni’s system. Both turnovers and low percentage shots will decrease once he returns. This will enable the team to get back on defense and force opposing teams into a half court offense.
4. Ball Movement
In Steve Nash’s absence, Kobe Bryant has been forced to try and spread the ball around to the best of his ability. The problem is that Kobe Bryant is simply not a point guard. He has great passing ability, but he can’t control an offense the way that someone like Steve Nash can.
Nash has the ability to get players where they need to be in order to be effective on the offensive side. He can place the ball exactly where it needs to be placed and create high percentage shots for others. He has done it time and time again for the Suns with players who were not nearly as talented as the guys that he has around him now.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have been forced to play as many minutes as they physically can in the absence of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Their minutes are drastically needed because the Lakers are having trouble finding offense from any of the other guys on the court. This will all change when Nash returns.
Not only is Nash someone who can create his own offense at any given time, but he can create better offensive opportunities for players who have had a bit of trouble this season. Guys like Jodie Meeks from the Lakers’ bench have already shown what they are capable of from the three-point line. Things will only get better when they’re receiving the ball from Steve Nash. This will allow the players on the floor to be trusted and give guys like Kobe and Dwight time to rest on the bench.
2. Clutch Moments
We’re only through the first quarter of the season and there have already been plenty of nail biting games. In these games, I’ve been left wishing that Steve Nash was out there. Kobe Bryant is probably the greatest clutch performer in the history of the NBA, but there are many times when he is forced to kick it out to an open shooter. Those current open shooters have been guys like Metta World Peace and Chris Duhon.
Steve Nash shoots 42.7% from the three-point line, which is 8th in the history of the NBA. He has also had his fair share of huge shots and some of them were even against the Lakers. The combination of both Nash and Kobe will cause issues for opposing defenses at the end of games. This will be a true pick your poison scenario.
Nash is also one of the greatest free throw shooters in the NBA and we all know that is something that the Lakers definitely need right now.
1. Pau Gasol
The trade rumors for Pau Gasol are never ending. Whispers of him potentially being traded are becoming louder and louder as the struggles continue. The Lakers front office finally became open about the Gasol fiasco stating if Gasol continues to struggle along side of Steve Nash, they will begin to shop.
This adds pressure on not only Pau Gasol, but also Steve Nash. It has become public that Nash was promised that Gasol will continue to be a Laker at the time of contract negotiations. This revelation made it apparent that Nash wants Gasol on his team. This can only mean that it’s now up to Steve Nash to help Gasol flourish in D’Antoni’s System and I believe he will.
With Dwight Howard dominating the paint, it becomes complicated for Pau Gasol to get close to the basket. Steve Nash will try to change this by helping Gasol get the ball where he can score and feels most comfortable. As these two sit on the sidelines in their nice suits, you can only assume that they’re discussing how they will make things work when they both make their returns.