Steve Nash had anything but a pleasant first year with the Los Angeles Lakers after being acquired by the team in the offseason last year via trade from the Phoenix Suns.
In the 2012-13 season, the only thing consistent about the two-time NBA MVP were the injuries he suffered. It was a sign early on that 39-year-old’s season would not go as planned as he suffered a small fracture to his fibula in his left leg when he collided with Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, which caused him to miss 24 games.
Nash’s health troubles did not end there as he injured his hip which caused nerve damage to his right hamstring that forced him to miss the last eight games of the regular season; in the playoffs, these very same injuries limited him to only be able to participate in the first two games of the first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.
In total, last season Nash was limited to playing in only 50 games where he averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 assists (lowest average since the 1999-2000 season as a Dallas Mavericks) in 32.5 minutes per game.
So it is fair to say that the Lakers never got to see a healthy Nash that was expected to be a major contributor to the team’s success last year rather he was a more of a shadow of himself often seeming to be out of sync and at many was relegated to becoming more of a spot-up shooter than the orchestrator of the offense.
Injuries were not the only thing that troubled him last season as there was the circus that surrounded the team because of Dwight Howard and the early-season switching of coaches from Mike Brown to Mike D’Antoni. The hiring of D’Antoni put pressure on the injury-riddled Nash to lead the Lakers like he did under the fast-paced offense he ran with much success in Phoenix for so many years.
It was envisioned by many Lakers fans and many members of the media that he would run a pick-and-roll offense with Howard, which was later revealed that Howard was unwilling to do so, and run an efficient where he would find open shooter along the perimeter. In reality it was anything but that as Nash struggled to stay healthy and when he was on the court he was not able to run the offense effectively on a consistent basis due to his lingering leg and back problems.
With that said this upcoming season is a fresh start for the 17-year veteran who looks like he is progressing along well in his rehab from his hip, hamstring and leg injury and seems to be ready to be a major contributor to the team.
“”I’ll be fine,” Nash said Wednesday after he played in his foundation’s annual celebrity soccer game. “It’s just going to take me another few weeks to get back to 100 percent and then I’ll train like usual for the season.”
“We’re excited to see what we can make of ourselves. We really are going to try for the second consecutive year to find chemistry and identity, but we’re excited for it, so we’ll see.”
So what to expect from Nash this season is a player who should be able to run the offense somewhat more near what he ran with the Suns as he has more shooters around him with Young, Johnson, Farmar, and Jodie Meeks. What also should help him is that he can go down low in the post to Pau Gasol, who should strive in a offense more oriented towards the Spaniard.
Nash maybe not be the same player he was three or four years ago but he can still be an effective on the court by using his excellent passing ability, ball handling skills and three-point shooting. If Nash can stay healthy, which is a big if, with him orchestrating the offense the Lakers will have more success than they experienced a year ago. He will certainly raise his 6.7 assists average from last year to somewhere near his 8.5 career average with the shooters he now has around him.
The bottom line here with Nash is his health, so if he remains relatively healthy expect him to have a bounce back year.
Photo Credit: Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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