Well, it is September which means that it’s the slow stage of the NBA year. Signings and trades are hard to come by as the summer signings of free agents and big-time trades are just about complete. School is back in session, the NFL season is now one week old and the MLB is nearing the October post-season. The Laker fanbase is itching for the pre-season to begin in order to get their first glimpse at the new roster that management put together in the last couple of months.
Dwight Howard may get the most media attention as everyone is seeking out even the smallest hint of his return date to real-game action. However, most argue that the presence of Steve Nash will have the most immediate impact to the Lakers. Besides considering the proven skills, abilities and knowledge the he brings to L.A., this argument considers the fact that it has been a very long time since the Lakers had a point guard of Nash’s stature.
It has been written and discussed on every platform of how Nash affects the Lakers and what he represents to the team. Therefore, I would like to talk about the union between Nash and his new backcourt partner in crime, Kobe Bryant.
While Bryant and Nash have different styles of how to play the game and how to lead, both are on the same page regarding their goals and vision for the team. While Nash has yet to capture a ring and Kobe has five, both are committed to winning and winning now.
Any Laker fan or Kobe fan knows that he is a more authoritative leader. He leads by example and isn’t afraid to be harsh to his teammates. On the other hand, Nash is a more supportive leader who will praise his teammates at any given moment. Sound familiar? Even though they weren’t backcourt companions, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen used the same tactics during their time with the Bulls. That worked out pretty well, right?
Former Suns front office member Amin Elhassan, who has experience with Nash and is familiar with Kobe’s leadership, stated:
“the perfect marriage of good cop, bad cop. Kobe’s the guy who gets on guys — which some people would criticize and say Steve didn’t do enough of in his career. And on the other hand you have Steve to kind of build guys up and build their confidence up, which obviously has been a criticism of Kobe. … I think it’s a perfect, perfect marriage.”
Some of the greatest backcourts in NBA history and Laker history don’t consist of players who essentially play the same game, but those who offer different strengths that compliment each other. The good cop, bad cop tactic of leadership is just one example of how the backcourt of Nash and Bryant will not disappoint. Nash’s ability to create opportunities for others will not only help the big men in pick-and-roll situations, but for Kobe as well.
It is no secret that Kobe had to carry too much of the load on offense last season, which resulted in a low shooting percentage and posting his worst true shooting percentage in his career. Bryant had to force shots and play hero-ball way too often, which was hard to watch as a fan. Nash allows Kobe to return to his true position and retreat from playing a combo point/shooting guard position. Kobe and Nash have different ways to knock down shots, but their ability to shoot will disrupt any defense they face.
Kobe proved to everyone that he could still be the leading scorer in the league last season, and would have been if he had played in the last game of the season. Just imagine what his numbers could have been if he didn’t have to force shots and play hero-ball. Therefore, not if, but when Kobe’s percentages go back to where they should be, the addition of Nash’s ability to shoot with extreme accuracy is yet another threat to the new purple and gold backcourt. Once again, they compliment each other.
One of the most effective traits that Kobe and Nash share is their high basketball IQ. There is no question that the starting Lakers backcourt has the highest basketball IQ in the league. If you think different, please tell me the team. Nash’s IQ for creating for others, finding opportunities that no one else sees and thinking and playing a step ahead of opponents compliments Kobe’s proven level of basketball IQ, especially in the fourth quarter.
Some pundits will comment on how old the Lakers backcourt is. Well, if that is their best argument, I’ll take it. Of course, the backcourt of Nash and Bryant are not perfect individually, but no player is perfect individually, although some come close. However, as I said before, Nash and Kobe compliment each other very well. Together this backcourt could compete with some of the best Laker backcourts of all-time, such as Magic/Scott and West/Goodrich.
Yes, it is a good time to be a Laker fan.