Steve Nash Will Make Everyone in Los Angeles a Better Shooter
Does Steve Nash make you a better shooter?
Yes. He does.
The myriad effects that all-time great Steve Nash will have on the Los Angeles Lakers offense in the upcoming season seem obvious. Nash is among the best shooters in the league when he chooses to put the rock up (see: courtvisionanalytics.com). That has been evident for years. The basketball world would fall off its collective chair if Kevin Durant put up the shooting percentages that Steve Nash has averaged that over an entire career.
Nash is also among the most prolific passers in NBA history. His tenure with the Phoenix Suns witnessed assist totals and consistency matched only by the legendary John Stockton. We should expect a floor general like Nash to keep up heavy assist totals with the offensively talented Lakers in 2012-13.
Nothing new to see here, right?
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It isn't enough to simply know that Nash will get assists. What we have to realize is that Steve Nash often creates them for himself.
Case in point: Channing Frye.
When Channing Frye was drafted out of the University of Arizona, he was hailed as a big who could run the floor and step out to mid-range. He was not under any circumstances thought of as a solid 3-point shooter. After four full seasons in the NBA, Frye had done nothing to change that perception. Then Steve Nash happened.
Frye's last season with the Portland Trailblazers witnessed a paltry 11-for-33 performance from beyond the arc. At the time that was by far Frye's most prolific year of shooting. His next season, playing with the Suns and Nash, saw a 172-for-392 explosion. Frye was an unwilling deep shooter until Nash began feeding him the ball with perfect rotation and positioning. Now, he is one of the best deep specialists in the league.
What does this mean for the Lakers in the upcoming season? A lot, actually. The Lakers happen to have their own 7-footer who is adept from mid range, strong from the free throw line, capable of playing away from the ball and in space, and largely underutilized from the arc: Pau Gasol.
We should not expect Gasol to explode into the second coming of Rashard Lewis because he shot just 7-for-27 last season. We should expect him to become much more of a threat from deep. This will be particularly true now that the Lakers have landed Dwight Howard. Despite Andrew Bynum's considerable offensive gifts, the ever-present threat of a Nash-to-Howard pick-n-roll should give him the extra space he needs.
Coach Mike Brown already experimented with Gasol playing away from the basket for much of last season. It seemed like a misappropriation of talent in the Lakers isolation-heavy half court system last year. We should expect a much more free flowing brand of basketball next season in Tinsel Town, and perhaps an emergent 3-point threat from the veteran Spaniard.
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