Expectations were set extremely high for this Lakers team, especially after the sign-and-trade deal that landed Steve Nash in Los Angeles. Giving up four draft picks, at the time, was an easy decision for a seasoned playmaker, especially one lacking a championship, making him just as hungry for a title as Kobe Bryant. As soon as the craze calmed down and it was ready to get to work, however, Nash discovered his aging body wasn’t prepared to exert the same amount of energy that was needed, and multiple injuries ultimately plagued his 2012-2013 season.
Regular Season Grade: C
It sounds harsh, but in this case, a good grade depends on attendance. In only the second game of the season, a collision with Portland’s Damian Lillard gave Nash a non-displaced leg fracture. Expected to miss about a week, the point guard was absent for almost seven, which was a main contributor to an ugly Lakers’ season start. While Nash was healthy, or at least able to walk, he was putting up numbers for his side, especially in the string of games after his return.
Averaging 12.7 points per game with 6.7 assists per game, Nash’s numbers were definitely below his career averages, with injuries being a main factor. Despite the Lakers bringing in Mike D’Antoni, who had already coached Steve in Phoenix from 2004 to 2008, there was a lack of consistency or any sign that the two knew how to work together, and it was proven as the Lakers woes only continued as the season stretched on. Nash was also unable to successfully run the pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard, another reason for Howard’s frustrations throughout the middle of the season.
Also, in multiple situations toward the end of the season, Kobe Bryant had to step up and become the playmaker on the floor, much to everyone’s surprise. Typically a shooter, Bryant found himself distributing more to make up for either Nash’s absence from the floor or just lack of ability to do so.
Playoff Grade: D
Nash himself stated that he wasn’t himself after the Lakers dropped Game 1 versus San Antonio. Taking 15 shots, the point guard only scored 16 points while dishing out a weak 3 assists. Despite the fact he was coming off of a three week absence due to a hamstring injury, he was definitely not performing to the standard necessary. Steve Blake, who stepped up for him multiple times in the season, was one of the only reasons Nash and the Lakers were in the playoffs at all.
More injuries resulted as the short four games of the playoffs trotted on for L.A. with Nash having both back and hip problems, which eventually placed him sitting in a wheelchair in an image that was spread all over social media. Sitting out in both Game 3 and Game 4 summed up the entirety of Steve Nash’s first season in Los Angeles: it was witnessed from the sidelines.
Overall Grade: C
An average season for a man who had so many expectations coming in to only watch them slowly collapse, doctor’s visit after doctor’s visit. The match up of Nash with Kobe Bryant, and eventually Dwight Howard and Coach Mike D’Antoni, would have been a lot better five years ago. The aging body and multiple problems going on around Nash that were completely out of his control only made returning and making a large impact in L.A. more difficult.
The worst part about the whole thing is that Nash doesn’t have the healing capabilities like he used to. It is uncertain if he will ever be able to play at the consistency and quality he did before joining the Lakers. He never had a real shining moment in Los Angeles, nor anything that Lakers fans can really look at and say, “that was definitely worth more than two first found and two second round draft picks.” It will be surprising if Nash continues his starting role in the next season, is even a Laker next season or is still playing competitively in the NBA at all.
Too many injuries and not enough time to prove his abilities or worth around the rest of an ailing roster and eventually disastrous season, made a great acquisition with a lot of potential turn into nothing great. Steve Nash ended up being an average addition with too big of a paycheck and too much of a negative impact for future signings, especially in regard to the Suns taking four future player selections away from Los Angeles.