Los Angeles Lakers: How Steve Nash in LA Will Boost Kobe Bryant's Efficiency
For Kobe Bryant, two-time MVP Steve Nash is just what the doctor ordered as he guns for his elusive sixth ring as a Los Angeles Laker.
Nash cited family reasons (via CBS) as the main culprit to join Los Angeles, but playing alongside the Black Mamba is certainly a main perk. In his 15th NBA season, Bryant had one of his best scoring seasons to date, finishing second in scoring average to Kevin Durant by .1 points.
While he had one of his best volume-scoring years statistically, ironically it was one of Kobe’s least efficient in years. Bryant’s usage rate the last few seasons has ranked amongst the league's highest, and his team’s offensive execution has suffered for it.
However shooting from 16 feet to three-point land, Bryant shot over 50 percent when assisted. Let’s keep in mind those numbers were with main distributors Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions. Throw Steve Nash into the mix, and away we go. This should immensely help Kobe’s jump shooting next season.
Some more numbers that should have Laker fans excited for their long-hair, don’t care two-time MVP: Last season he was the only point guard in the NBA who averaged over 30 minutes and shot a top 20 true shooting percentage per game.
Throw in he’s a recurring member of the 50-40-90 club (FG%-3PT%-FT%). When he doesn’t hit those numbers, Nash hovers around them like a stage-five clinger. He provides a viable shooting option who should spread the floor for Bryant and keep double teams at bay.
Where Nash will truly make his mark with the Lakers is taking pressure off Kobe to involve the Lakers bigs. Nash assisted over 50 percent of his teammates' baskets while on the floor last season; nobody is better at getting the lesser players involved on offense.
For Andrew Bynum, no more standing around in the post watching Kobe go isolation and connect on 39 percent of those attempts. Nash’s dominant pick and roll abilities will provide easy looks in the paint for the 24-year-old behemoth; Lob City could be in purple and gold with that tandem playing significant minutes together.
Pau Gasol, LA’s forgotten second fiddle, stands to gain a ton by being paired with Nash. Nash will make sure to utilize Gasol’s skills from 18 feet and in; they’ll bring a style of Euroball to the Lakers that should shore up their stagnant offensive attack from last year.
The last time Nash had a power forward as skilled as Gasol playing PNR sets on end? That would be Dirk Nowitzki. We all know how exciting those two were as a pairing.
There will be some growing pains early, but the load on Kobe’s back looks as light as a feather with Nash in the fold. The question is now: How good can this star-studded Laker team be?
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