Chris Duhon: Why Point Guard Must Step Up with the Lakers

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 13:  Chris Duhon #25 of the Orlando Magic during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 13, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dwight Howard may have been the headliner of the Lakers blockbuster summer trade, but it's Chris Duhon that could wind up being the pivotal piece for the Lakers' title hopes.

The Lakers already know what they are getting out of Howard in the trade—the league's most dominant big man and a game-changing defensive force. The addition of Howard completely changes this Lakers team. However, they don't know what they are getting in Duhon.

The point guard has had an up-and-down career since being taken in the second round out of Duke in 2004.

After rotating in and out of the starting lineup in Chicago for three seasons, Duhon had his best season with the New York Knicks as the starting point guard in the '08-'09 season. In that season, Duhon averaged 11 points and 7 assists per game and displayed his potential as a distributing point guard.

However, he was plagued with injuries the next season and found himself struggling behind Jameer Nelson with the Orlando Magic the past two seasons, averaging 15 and 19 minutes a game, respectively.

Now Duhon finds himself on a stacked Lakers team that has a great need at the point guard position behind Steve Nash.

Nash, who is 38, can still play at an elite level but at his age will need rest throughout the season to make sure that he is fresh and ready to go when the postseason rolls around. In order for the Lakers to be able to rest Nash properly, they will need a backup point guard that they can trust to run the offense.

Duhon fits that mold, but he must outplay Steve Blake to win the job outright. If Duhon plays up to his potential, he could unseat Blake and give the Lakers the upgrade at the position that they desperately need.

If the Lakers are able to get consistent play from Duhon off the bench that will allow them to conserve Nash throughout the season making the Lakers all the more dangerous when the playoffs come around.

With a change of scenery and infinitely more offensive weapons surrounding him, there's no reason that Duhon can't play at a high level; ultimately it will be up to him to step up and help the Lakers out.