Steve Blake or Chris Duhon: Who Should Back Up Steve Nash?

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Steve Blake or Chris Duhon: Who Should Back Up Steve Nash?
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

According to the OCRegister, Los Angeles Lakers' point guard Steve Blake may have a slight edge over Chris Duhon when it comes to backing up starter Steve Nash, based on his previous experience with the team.

Head coach Mike Brown said Blake had been playing great basketball during informal workouts before a foot injury forced him to miss the beginning of training camp.

Using Blake to spell Nash seems like a sound decision when you consider that Blake is a 40 percent career three-point shooter compared to Duhon's 36 percent, and the Lakers should expect a fair amount of open perimeter shots due to the attention that Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will command in the paint.

Beyond Nash and Jodie Meeks, the Lakers don't have anyone else on the roster who can be considered as a reliable, consistent three-point threat which makes Blake's touch from long distance crucial, but this theory ignores his liabilities on the defensive end.

Blake is a streaky shooter and when he's hot he can definitely help the Lakers, but it's a safe bet that whoever Blake is defending when he's in the game will be helping his own team as well by punishing Blake off the dribble.

One of the Lakers' main flaws the past two seasons has been their inability to prevent penetration from opposing point guards, and they may have taken a step back in that regard by acquiring Nash.

I'm not sure if Nash can be much worse defensively than the departed Ramon Sessions and Blake were during the 2012 NBA Playoffs, but Nash's worth is measured in the stability and vision he brings to the Lakers' offense, not his defense.

But that doesn't mean the Lakers should abandon the concept of defense from the point guard position, and I would feel better about Brown's assessment of Blake if it included any tales about a commitment to defense.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Since it didn't, maybe Brown should consider taking a long look at Duhon, a player whose reputation has been crafted on defense.

Duhon learned the nuances of defense from coach K at Duke University, and he has carried those basic principles with him to the NBA. Duhon may not be a defensive stopper, but he's well-schooled in the fundamental aspects of the art.

Duhon is a couple of inches shorter than Blake but he's quicker, stronger and understands how to keep opponents in front of him by sliding his feet.

Scoring should not be a problem for a team whose starting unit includes two players who averaged more than 20 points per game, and a third who nearly cracked that barrier.

The Lakers will score points in bunches from the perimeter and paint once Nash gets fully acclimated to his teammates, but a return to the NBA Finals will be predicated by their ability to prevent other teams from scoring.

Howard and Metta World Peace give the Lakers' starting unit a strong defensive identity, and Duhon could do the same for the reserves.

Blake can still play a role for the Lakers with his three-point shooting, but the need for a consistent threat from outside may be a little overstated.

The Lakers were not know for their impressive three-point shooting during their consecutive title runs in 2009-10, and if they reach the finals in 2013, I'm highly doubtful that long-range shooting will be the reason.

But defense might, and memories of Blake getting abused off the dribble are much stronger in my mind than his accuracy from long distance.

 

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