Steve Nash Acceptance of Shooter Role Has Been Key To Los Angeles Lakers Resurgence
For years, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash has been the NBA premier distributor. Nash’s ability to consistently set up teammates for open baskets have set the standard for passers in the league and led Nash to leading the NBA in assists per game for five seasons, winning two MVP awards in the process.
But with the Lakers this season Nash has been asked to take a role as a spot up shooter off the ball more times than not, by the same head coach — Mike D’Antoni — that Nash experienced the best years of his career under at that. Nash has since relinquished the play maker role to Kobe Bryant, and ever since doing so the Lakers have been an improved team.
At Nash’s advanced age – he turned 39 in February – he is unable to maintain the same high-paced style of play for 30+ minutes as he did in his prime with the Phoenix Suns. By taking some of the ball handling duties off of Nash, the Lakers are in a way extending his career to get the best value out of the aging point guard. Nash has responded by being the reliable shooter he has always been, shooting over .500 from the field (.503), .400 from three-point range (.426) and over 90% from the free throw line (.909). If Nash maintains his current percentages this season will mark the fifth time he has accomplished the 50/40/90 shooter’s plateau.
The Lakers are 14-7 since the rumored team meeting that was held back on January 23rd, with Nash averaging a respectable 12.8 points and 5.6 assists, his lowest assist rate since the 1999-2000 season where Nash was a part-time starter with the Dallas Mavericks. Playing more of a complimentary role may be the best bet for Nash to play out the three-year deal he inked with the Lakers last summer and extend his career even further.