As the roster is currently constituted, the Lakers have three point guards — two of which are vying for starter’s minutes. Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin could both start for most teams in the league. Jordan Clarkson is unproven but showed very well at the Las Vegas Summer League in July. Whoever receives the most minutes at point guard for these Los Angeles Lakers will tell fans how the season went.
Nash is playing in the final year of his Hall-of-Fame career. He is looking to show he is more than a contract figure and, if productive, could help the Lakers contend for the playoffs. If, at the end of the year, Nash leads the rotation in games started, the Lakers will have matched or even exceeded expectations.
Nash starting would push Lin to come off the bench and allow Clarkson to play only when he is ready with little to no expectations in productivity. Lin could still lead the rotation in minutes, but Nash starting lends itself to the most natural rotation.
Lin fits best in a bench role leading an explosive second unit alongside players like Nick Young and Xavier Henry. If Nash isn’t healthy, however, Lin would have to slide into the first five and force Clarkson into the expectations that come with leading a unit. As Clarkson hasn’t played a single NBA minute, those expectations would not be ideal. He should play but with as little pressure as possible.
While Lin might actually be the better player than Nash at this point in their respective careers, the Lakers will look back on the season not having performed up to their potential. In terms of impact on the future of the franchise, this would be worst-case scenario as they would probably finish with better than the fifth-worst record in the league and send their first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns.
Finally, if unproven second-round pick Clarkson gets any starts, the Lakers will have gone into full on tank mode and could end up keeping the aforementioned draft pick. It’s always risky to look too deeply into summer league play, but Clarkson was nearly as impressive as Julius Randle, the Lakers’ selection at No. 7 overall in the June draft. While this scenario would be the most frustrating for fans as both Nash and Lin will have attained injuries, it would not be nearly as damaging as giving up that draft pick.
Overall, a position battle featuring an aging superstar, a flash in the pan and an unproven rookie is not the type of storyline that builds confidence in the organization’s direction among fans. Especially when, just down the hall, the Los Angeles Clippers have enjoyed so much success with Chris Paul.
LakersNation is reporting Nash and Kobe Bryant are as healthy as they’ve ever been together since Nash came to L.A. and both have to be pretty hungry to prove to doubters wrong. Whether that hunger will take this team to the playoffs or to the lottery will be decided by their table-setter.