It seems fairly obvious. After all, Nash is a perennial All-Star who can give you 15 points and 10 assists per game. Yet his value to Los Angeles doesn’t stop there.
Nash is more familiar with Mike D’Antoni’s system more than anyone on the Lakers’ roster. He played under Magic Mike in their glory days with the Phoenix Suns, and thrived while doing so. Subsequently, it is him who can provide some balance to this complex Laker dynamic.
No, it’s not that Darius Morris has been terrible, because he hasn’t. He’s showcased his athleticism on a number of occasions and made a case for himself, not Steve Blake, to be Nash’s primary backup upon his return.
That said, no one holds a candle to what Nash can do on the basketball court. He’s one of the most efficient passers in the game, as well as one of the most deadly shooters—commodities that D’Antoni’s run-and-gun system doesn’t just embrace, but needs.
He is also just the player to balance an offense that is so star-heavy. He can help Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard become more of a force on the offensive end, he can help Antawn Jamison continue the recent tear he is on and he can make Kobe Bryant even better than he already is.
Make no mistake, the Lakes have been unimpressive thus far this season. They’ve looked like a juggernaut on more than one occasion, but have appeared more than lost on other occasions as well. And again, Nash can change that. He’s the extra shooter Los Angeles so desperately needs, he’s the proven floor general this team so sorely lacks and he’s the one who was essentially born to play in this system.
Like it or not, the rest of the Lakers’ core has had to make plenty of adjustments. Bryant—though he’s thriving—is not used to playing off the ball as much as he currently does now. Howard and Gasol aren’t used to having to navigate the floor the way they are now, and Metta World Peace simply isn’t accustomed to taking as many shots as he’s getting.
Nash, however, is the seven-seconds-or-less system. He knows how to make an seemingly complex offensive attack run like a well-oiled machine; he is the respected point man who can feed the hot hand, dictating who gets the ball and where.
Which is what the Lakers need. They’re currently 24th in the league in assists per game with 20.9 and they’re three-point shooting—despite being at 37.4 percent—is inconsistent at best. As a result, the Lakers who are currently struggling to play .500 basketball, are inconsistent at best as well.
Once Nash returns, though, that stands to change. This oft-unwatchable Lakers squad will instantaneously become a creative powerhouse, a team that not only contends with, but consistently beats the best teams.
So, don’t panic just yet Laker faithful. Nash will return soon enough, and from there, the boys in purple and gold will finally be able to reach the collectively lofty ceiling that was set for them upon their creation.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.
All stats in this article are accurate as of November 26th, 2012.