How Does the Addition of Steve Nash Help the Lakers Match Up with the Thunder?

Nikhil BaradwajSenior Analyst IJuly 14, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks past Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder after a 106-90 loss during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City Thunder win the series 4-1, and advance to the Western Conference Finals.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers might have put themselves back into the conversation for a title with the addition of Steve Nash (via ESPN).

Nash is so effective because he makes everyone around him better, while also being an above-average three-point shooter.

To win an NBA title, the Lakers will likely need to get past the Oklahoma City Thunder, the reigning Western Conference champions.

With that in mind, how do the Lakers match up with OKC?

On paper, both teams are pretty close.

If I scored each component of each team as a boxing fight, these would be the results:

Westbrook over Nash: 10-9

Bryant over Harden: 10-8

Durant over World Peace: 10-7

Gasol over Ibaka: 10-9

Bynum over Perkins: 10-8

OKC Bench over L.A. bench: 10-8

Scott Brooks over Mike Brown: 10-9

The tallied score has the Thunder over the Lakers by two points. The question begs to be asked: Can the Lakers close the gap?

The answer to that question is yes. The bench needs to be improved, not in terms of marquee players, but ones who mesh well together.

Take Nick Collison of the Thunder, for example. He does not put up big-time statistics, but does all of the little things.

Gasol needs to step up in the playoffs and out-play Ibaka. The Spanish big man definitely has the talent to do so, but his career statistics in the playoffs are mediocre compared to his exploits during the season.

Finally, Coach Brown needs to out-coach Brooks. Quite honestly, Brooks is one of the more overrated coaches in the league, as he repeatedly mismanages Westbrook and Durant.

If Brown can set the tone on the defensive end of the floor, L.A. might be able to take advantage of Westbrook's indecisiveness.

If Kobe and Bynum put up big-time numbers all series, the Lakers will have a shot to beat their nemesis.

The same can be said about Westbrook and Durant. If these two young superstars are able to score at will against L.A., look for a potential series to end quickly.

While the odds are against them, the Lakers are one of the few teams that has the ability to beat the Thunder. The next question is whether they can put everything together and win Kobe Bryant his sixth NBA title.