The way Nash is being utilized isn’t exactly how fans, management, and certainly not Mike D’Antoni envisioned his skill-set being put to use with this team, but at this point it is what it is.
Similarly, Nash, 39, is much older than he was back in the Phoenix days, and perhaps one reason he came to the Lakers was to take the burden off himself to constantly make plays for everyone else.
There’s no doubt he still loves passing the ball, but maybe an “overlooked” aspect of his greatness has been his ability to shoot the ball.
Don’t get me wrong; Nash has always been known as an exceptional shooter, but he won two MVPs as a direct result of elevating his teammates’ level of play exponentially.
However, another testament to his greatness now is that despite him having to adjust his game and play off-ball, he’s still able to make a profound impact on the game with his deadly shooting.
Think of Dwyane Wade when LeBron James first got to Miami; Wade had to sacrifice his individual stats and take a backseat so James’ greatness.
Essentially, this is what’s happening with Nash and Kobe.
Kobe’s certainly not a pass-first type of player, and when Nash was brought in, the thinking was that Nash would take over the ball-handling responsibilities while Kobe put up the points.
It worked out for a while as Kobe shot a high percentage and Nash dished out assists, but it simply didn’t result in wins.
Now, with Bryant averaging north of 7.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game along with those 32.2 points on 53.1 percent shooting in the last ten games, “Vino” is having an unbelievable offensive stretch that rivals–or perhaps even beats, with some of the clutch shooting he’s put on display–James’ style of basketball.
Nobody expected that at all, but right now when you have a player like that performing at the level he is, the rest of the team has to take a backseat–especially since it’s resulting in wins (the team is 8-2 since the break).
Although Dwight Howard has slowly come on while battling through back surgery recovery and dealing with a shoulder injury, Steve Nash has been the one constant alongside Kobe Bryant on the offensive end of the floor
Essentially, with Kobe’s unbelievable play, the rest of the team has to simply play to their roles: Kobe has to dominate the ball on the offensive end, Dwight has to grab rebounds and control the defensive end, and Steve Nash has the green light to let fly whenever he touches the ball.
In time, as Howard gets into better condition and Pau Gasol returns to the lineup, the style of play may turn a little bit more balanced in terms of scoring and play-making–as it did on Sunday against the Chicago Bulls–but for now, the team has to follow Kobe’s direction.
Thus far, Steve Nash has done just that and the Lakers simply wouldn’t be where they are right now (finally in eighth place and poised to make the playoffs) without Nash’s potent offense.
Always a “team first” type of player, Nash has once again proved that he will truly do whatever it takes to win and make the team better.
In this instance, he’s been asked to forgo something he’s one of the greatest of all time at doing–passing–in favor of putting the ball in the basket. Fortunately for the Lakers, he’s not only one of the greatest passers of all time, but also one of the greatest shooters the NBA has ever seen.
Who would’ve thought at the beginning of the season that Kobe Bryant would be passing more and Steve Nash would be shooting as a first option?
It’s certainly not what was envisioned, but hey, at least for now, it’s working.