Defense has not played a big role in the career of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash, but ironically Nash will helm one of the NBA's top defensive teams next season if fellow new-comer Dwight Howard returns healthy.
Most of the discussion concerning the Lakers lately has centered around their ability to establish chemistry on the offensive side of the floor, but due to Mike Brown's philosophy and Howard's presence they should be ahead of the curve on defense.
I have never been a fan of Brown but I have always respected his belief in a solid defense based on sound fundamentals.
Brown may not be the coach you want calling a play at the end of a close game, and it's hard to excuse his lack of imagination on the offensive side of the floor, but he seems to understand the principles and benefits of good defense.
And it doesn't hurt that Brown will soon have arguably the NBA's top defensive player at his disposal.
Howard is known for his ability to block and alter shots but his presence in the paint is commanding enough to force opponents to re-think their entire approach to attacking the rim.
Even when Howard doesn't block shots he is still able to disrupt the offensive flow and rhythm of opposing teams, and Howard's defensive dominance certainly had a trickle-down effect on his teammates.
The Orlando Magic were one of the NBA's top defensive teams with Howard roaming the paint, but remove Howard from the picture and the 2012-13 Magic will probably be one of the league's worst.
Howard was not just the heart of the Magic's defense, he was their defense.
Once Howard returns to the Lakers lineup he will be responsible for assuming the same defensive role he played in Orlando, but he will be surrounded by significantly more talent.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace are much better defenders than anyone Howard played with in Orlando, and while Nash's name does not evoke images of a defensive posture, the same can be said for Jameer Nelson.
Nash is a much better offensively than Nelson, and if Nelson does hold an edge on defense it's only marginal at best.
Nelson was not a great defensive player but he thrived on a great defensive team, and while Nash may never fully embrace the concept of strong defense a little effort could go a long way with Howard backing him up.
Howard's quickness and range in the paint can erase some of Nash's mistakes, and he should be able to gamble more in the passing lanes with Howard guarding the rim.
Nash has never played on a team that stressed strong defense, and for the first time in his career Nash is on a star-studded squad who will most likely be defined by their defense.
I don't expect Nash to suddenly be interested in the finer points of the art because it's not in his nature, and to be honest the Lakers didn't sign Nash for his defense anyway.
That designation belongs to Dwight Howard who makes any team better defensively simply with his presence, and this theory should be true when it comes to Nash and the Lakers as well.
The Lakers will not reach the NBA Finals on the strength of Nash's defense, but with Howard manning the paint defense will still be a major theme and a major reason if the Lakers manage to make it there anyway.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!