One of the glaring problems for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2012-13 NBA season thus far has been on the defensive end of the floor. The Lakers currently are among the league’s best in scoring, putting up 102.0 points per game and dominate the glass with 46.0 rebounds per contest, but give up 99.3 points to opponents (21st in the NBA) on a nightly basis.
Obviously, giving up almost 100 points a night is a problem that needs to be corrected by a team with three of the league’s best defenders in Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. Even though Bryant and World Peace are on the backend of their careers in the league and Howard is still trying to get back to form after off-season back surgery, there’s no excuse for the Lakers’ defensive problems this season as they should be playing much better on that end of the floor.
Before helping the Lakers win a third consecutive game in hard-fought battle against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night, Howard talked about Steve Nash’s return to the floor and how the veteran’s presence will help the team defensively via Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times:
“Most of the time our half-court defense has been pretty good. That teams that kill us [do it] with fast-break points, which on the stats sheet show up as points in the paint, and it makes it seem like we’re not playing defense.”
The Lakers turn the ball over 16.2 times a night, second-worst in the league. Howard expects Nash to orchestrate a more cohesive offense, resulting in fewer turnovers, which would drastically reduce fast-break opportunities for their opponents.
Nash’s defense has been considered his biggest flaw during his career with his focus strictly on the offensive end of the floor. Howard does have a point here though as Nash’s return might very well reduce the defensive deficiency with a more efficient offense.
Another advantage of having Nash on the floor will be the fact that the team won’t be putting so much energy on the offensive. Nash’s penetration will draw the defense and leave shooters like Bryant, World Peace, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and others open on the perimeter. This means less one-on-one basketball that the team has been resorted to and a more fluid style of offense that should help in all areas.
It’ll be interesting to see Nash’s impact that might be felt as early as this Saturday against the Golden State Warriors in the Bay Area. It remains uncertain whether or not Nash will ultimately be a game-changer for the Lakers that’ll help cure the team’s problems on both ends of the floor, but it’s hard to imagine that having the two-time NBA MVP back on the floor won’t improve the team considerably.