On January 25, something strange happened in a game against the Utah Jazz: Kobe Bryant looked to pass first and score as a second option.
This trend continued until the All-Star break, where the Lakers went 8-4 and Bryant averaged 8.5 assists over the 12 game stretch.
With Kobe facilitating the offense, Steve Nash’s assists average dipped to just 5.5, but his offensive potency was put on display.
Since the All-Star break, things have leveled off a bit as Kobe’s scoring a lot and doing so with an extremely high rate of efficiency, and Steve Nash is running more successful pick-and-rolls.
However, although Kobe has looked for his shot more and has averaged 32.2 points since the break, he hasn’t done away with passing altogether, either, as he’s averaging 7.1 assists in the ten games since the All-Star break.
Nash’s assists average has dipped even more, all the way down to just 5.0 per game, but he’s been aggressive on the offensive end.
Essentially, Bryant and Nash have found a way to successfully coexist and play off of each other.
Kobe often isolates or breaks down the first line of defense, and then passes to an open Nash to either pop a three-pointer, or drive into the lane and get a better shot or make a second pass.
On other occasions, Nash runs pick-and-rolls with Dwight Howard with a much better result than before the All Star break.
One thing which has been constant ever since that Utah game has been Nash’s hot shooting and overall offensive production.
In those 22 games, Nash is averaging 13.6 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting from the field and 46.2 percent from behind the three-point line.
For a guy who’s averaged 14.4 points on 49.1 percent shooting from the field and 42.8 percent shooting from three over his whole career, this may not appear as much of a big deal.
Perhaps it’s not, but what is evident is that Nash’s shooting is being featured more than his passing–which is perfectly fine for now.
Now, since the ten games following the All-Star break, Nash has averaged 14.2 points on 50.0 percent field goal shooting and an incredible 53.3 clip from behind the three-point arc!
Nash is still dropping dimes, but perhaps his greater–or at least equal–value to this team is his ability to knock down the long ball and/or create his own shot. Both are elements Kobe Bryant couldn’t count on from teammates in the past.
Where Kobe Bryant is leading the team in scoring in those ten games (32.2), Dwight Howard (15.5) and Steve Nash (14.2) have complemented him well. More importantly, the trifecta is averaging over 50 percent from the field.
However, it has been Nash’s red-hot shooting from long range which has allowed Kobe more space to operate, and in turn opened things up for Dwight Howard a bit more as well.
Next Page: Is Nash Being Used Properly, Though?