Why Steve Nash Is So Important to Building Lakers’ Progress Reviewed by Momizat on . The roller coaster of a season thus far is still in full throttle as the Lakers still look to find their way. The fans are still left to question which team wil The roller coaster of a season thus far is still in full throttle as the Lakers still look to find their way. The fans are still left to question which team wil Rating:
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Why Steve Nash Is So Important to Building Lakers’ Progress

The roller coaster of a season thus far is still in full throttle as the Lakers still look to find their way. The fans are still left to question which team will show up for a game. What are considered “for sure” wins are proving to be a challenge for the current roster to handle. However, this doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any glimmers of hope from the team this year. Additionally, their current struggles don’t mean that the Lakers are completely doomed, but rather represents obstacles that the team needs to overcome.

We started off the week with the news that came out yesterday of Mike D’Antoni telling the media that Steve Nash has a “possibility” to return to the lineup during the upcoming four game-road trip that kicks off Tuesday against Antawn Jamison’s old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. This doesn’t mean that Nash’s return is a definite for this week, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

Laker fans have been hearing the “when Steve returns” excuse for weeks now, even from D’Antoni himself, especially after losses. While I believe that the absence of Steve Nash isn’t an excuse for some of the poor performances the Lakers have strung together this season, as Lakers Nation’s Carmen Vitali pointed out this weekend, building the team’s identity has yet to show its face and sure has been affected without the on-court presence of Nash.

Their defensive presence is another story and I’m mainly discussing the offense here.

Nash is the root reason why D’Antoni was hired over Phil Jackson. The real possibility of recreating Showtime, or at least a version of it, seemed too much for Jerry Buss to pass up. I have always believed that the acquisition of Nash would have more of an immediate affect than the addition of Dwight Howard. Don’t get me wrong, having D12 in purple and gold is phenomenal, but I believe Howard represents the future for LA. Nash’s impact will be more short-term (three years) and is all about the now.

Plus, I think we all know that Nash will have an immediate and very complimentary impact to Howard. Dwight is arguably the best roller of the pick-and-roll in the game. I lived in Phoenix during the D’Antroni/Nash era and witnessed how Nash made Amaré Stoudemire a household name. Therefore, I can only imagine how the dominance the Nash and Howard will have once they share the court together and get on the same page.

The same goes for Pau Gasol. I have remained true to my opinion that Gasol should not be moved until he and Nash play together. Nash makes everything easier for everybody on the court, which should absolutely benefit Gasol, who has had his struggles this year. Gasol has the basketball IQ and skill to play in essentially any system. I think it is only fair to without complete judgements of what to do with Gasol until we see how Nash affects his contribution, especially since Gasol’s presence of the Lakers was one of the selling points for Nash to join the Lakers.

D’Antoni’s up-tempo offensive system is solely dependent on the point guard. D’Antoni happened to have one of the best point guards in history in Nash during his time in Phoenix, which is why his system was such a success there. Fourtunatly for the Lakers, Nash and D’Antoni are paired up again, which is why fans and the organization are so hopeful.

Additionally, D’Antoni hasn’t had this type of talent on his team before. While the uber-talen of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and company should absolutely be enough to find a way to win games without Nash, the team’s identity will not form until Nash returns. Additionally, for those that doubt the importance of chemistry, just review the number of turnovers that appear on the stat sheet every game.

Of course, I understand the frustration that fans feel after losses. I’m in that same boat. However, I find it unwise to call for the firing or questioning the hiring of D’Antoni. I have said this before in responses on Twitter, and I’ll say it again. It is my belief that we cannot completely judge the performance of Mike D’Antoni as a coach or the state of the Lakers until Nash returns.

As I said before, some losses should have been wins and the Nash excuse shouldn’t be used as a crutch to explains those losses. However, when you consider that the Lakers have started their 3rd and 4th string point guards for about a month now, have fired and hired a new coach and have adapted to another system, you can understand the major obstacles that the Lakers have had to deal with right out of the gate.

Patience is one of the most challenging aspects of sports. This especially applies to the Lakers when we all know that this starting lineup is arguably the best is the league. However, we cannot totally judge the Lakers and write them off before they have had a chance to truly gel, particularly under a system that relies so heavily on Nash.

The process of becoming a dominate, championship contending team is never perfect. Their commitment to defense will be an on-going need to legitimately compete for example. The Lakers have four plus months of regular season basketball left to move to the next level. Nash’s return won’t resolve every issue in LA, but we will get a much clearer picture of what the team can do. Don’t lose hope yet. Leave that for the bandwagon fans who have already jumped ship.

About The Author

Elizabeth is a graduate from Arizona State University and has her master's from Duquesne University. She is currently an associate editor at Lakers Nation. To read more of Elizabeth's articles click here. You can also follow Elizabeth on Twitter @Gobibs

Number of Entries : 381
  • hookedonnews

    I agree with everything you wrote. Would like to believe fans will be a little more patient. On the other hand, I understand the frustration. I guess it’s just a part of our culture to expect instant success.

    • Dr. Rasheed

      2012-13 Age:61 Mike D’Antoni
      Games Coached: 11
      Games Won:4
      Games Lost:7
      Win/Loss%: .364
      Wins over >.500 (W-L/2) = -1.5

      Career in NBA
      Games Coached:738
      Games Won:392
      Games Lost:346
      Win/Loss%: .531
      Wins over >.500 (W-L/2) = 23.0

      How can we have patience when team is sinking while majority of the other teams are rising?
      With so much talent on the team, we thought an average coach will ok to get us out of hole.
      But with this coach the team is sinking instead of rising up. Why did we hire this man?
      We have 36% wins with him.
      64% of the time we will be losing games and win 36% of time we will win games.
      Why should we even watch Lakers games?
      Why pay money to see the Lakers games?

      Why support (with love, time and money) and in return what are we getting back?
      In good times you are with Lakers and in bad times you have to be with Lakers…
      Ship is sinking and we have to wait for the maintenance people to fix the issue instead of getting upset.
      If you love Lakers, Have patience! Hope for the best! (We need a miracle)

      • hookedonnews

        D’Antoni was hired because the Lakers acquired Steve Nash. They wanted to return to the kind of offense that the Lakers had when they had Magic Johnson. The record is dismal and worse than it should be even with Nash and Gasol out. However, it’s only been 11 games. The offense should improve dramatically when Steve Nash comes back and the D’Antoni system is running like it should. This will take a little time. Real fans will be patient and continue to support the team. They need to work on their defense. Once Nash is back, the offense will take care of itself.

        • Dr. Rasheed

          Patience, that’s the hard part when you are giving your support, life’s time and money.
          But you are right. Hope for the best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kenneth-Braxton/1253636418 Kenneth Braxton

    this team is losing ground every day in this tough division, should have shown more patience with Mike Brown

    • Dr. Rasheed

      We were expecting an upgrade like Phil Jackson not Mike D’Antoni…

  • LakerFan

    So based on this article the lakers DEFENSE isn’t the problem? Nash coming back will solve this? I wanted Phil back badly as well, but the lakers just don’t have it in them to play defense like they need to anymore(other than dwight) & this is the most important aspect of the game. Teams are just taking dwight away from the basket and breaking..them..down..completely, especially in transition. The lakers have personnel AND coaching issues, the lakers problems are a little more complicated than meets the eye. And time, is not something this old team has on its side, there’s nothing for us as fans to wait for, and this is just giving the lakers as players more excuses to be mediocre. They get paid millions to perform not just acknowledge the obvious problems and not change it, lazy asses. So lets start being realistic here.

    • Dr. Rasheed

      How realistic: Stop watching Lakers games? People giving their valuable time of their life to watch the game. People who are buying tickets to Lakers games? Lakers fans and media is frustrated.
      Who is happy with Lakers?
      Answer: Jim Buss! after all it is his ego decision making…
      One man’s decision effecting million of people’s life who are giving their love, time and money for Lakers.

      • LakerFan

        & this my friend is how franchises slowly decline for good, when management messes up, and fans keep finding excuses to let it continue, or accept mediocrity. Should we start the we want phil chants now or later?

        • Dr. Rasheed

          Phil is not coming back! It will be extremely difficult for Lakers to hire him after what Lakers Management did with Phil Jackson (They made a joke out of him in public who helped them win championships. They try to malign his reputation in public media which will be hard to recover. Obviously, that was not their agenda but unfortunately that’s how things unfolded).
          Chant won’t matter anymore. ONLY chant that might work right now is MVP for KOBE, team can go to HELL!
          Give sometime, its been only 11 games for the coach out of which he won 4 games =36% wins. Mike brown was given whole short season and next few games. It is complex situation: Without Nash, few games without Pau, bad chemistry between Dwight and Kobe, bench players finally hitting some shots.
          Lakers management is waiting for Nash/Pau return and see how things unfold. If they are bad then they have change of trade by mid February…If all else fail…Mike D’Antoni will be out of here by next season or Dwight leaving Lakers…

          There is lot of responsibility on Nash’s shoulder right now to build some chemistry. But, without Kobe’s contributing/spreading the ball to his teammates (even if they are missing shots. Kobe needs to have patience and build trust with players instead of talking too many shots per game), this team is not going to move forward.

          • LakerFan

            Lol I know man I know. Youre very right sir. We’re coming from the same place. I agree I was just being sarcastic with the phil comment. My point is we cant even look around for Phil with the S on his chest to save the lakers now, & its all around looking pretty grim..long & short term. So where to go from here? Is all im saying..

          • Dr. Rasheed

            :) i thought you were serious…

  • Dr. Rasheed

    Liz you are one of the best article writers at Lakersnation.
    Thanks for instilling hope in Lakers fans.
    I totally agree with you, have patience.
    Nash return will be positive (knocking on the wood)
    Defense will be issue which will work hopefully once system fully restores.
    Lakers won 4 games with Mike D’Antoni. They won the games because of their high energy and good defense. Rest of the games were lost due to bad defense.

  • ProLAL

    I cant watch Lakers w/o Nash.. the offense really is not flowing in the right way.. We should at least work on the defense… com’on.

  • Crystal

    The Lakers have to focus on improving without Nash. They can’t wait for him to get back to start playing well. Offense isn’t the problem…it’s defense. Giving up 60 points at halftime?? (Utah game) Come on…you’re not gonna win games giving that many points up and turning the ball over so many frickin times.

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