Lakers News: LA Needs Steve Nash to Stay Healthy Due to Weak Backups

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles away from Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on October 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Little surprise out of the Los Angeles Lakers camp this week when head coach Mike Brown announced that PG Steve Blake earned the lions' share of work behind new starter Steve Nash, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.

Despite the 0-8 preseason record of the Lakers, there's little doubt that the assortment of talent they've collected will be expected to touch the 60-win mark if the group stays healthy.

The key word there: If.

With Brown essentially handing the job to Blake, you would expect the confidence for the backups to be at a pretty high level right now. Blake won't be asked to score or lead the offense, just play solid defense, avoid costly turnovers and hit the open three-pointer when he's called upon.

If you look at Brown's comments upon naming Blake the backup, though, it's almost as if there's more turmoil than meets the eye in the decision to give Blake the job.

"He had a little bit of an advantage because he was in the system last year. So he's got a good feel on what we want to do on both ends of the floor. It was close.”

That's not a huge endorsement for a guy that's going to have a pretty definite role in the offense. Chris Duhon and Darius Morris were also in the mix, so you have to wonder if Blake is under the microscope for the first part of the season.

When mapping out Steve Nash's minutes, there's a certain pattern he's had in Phoenix for a number of years. Nash played most of the minutes in the first quarter, sat for the end of the first and the majority of the second before coming back in to close the half. He usually repeated the pattern in the second half.

That's not to say situations won't warrant a change in that strategy. But Nash, who has chronic back problems, won't benefit from playing 35-plus minutes a night if the backups can't get the job done.

The end game for LA, maybe now more than ever with aging stars Kobe Bryant and Nash, is to win multiple championships. They can't afford to overuse Nash in the regular season with the full 82-game slate back in play and the playoffs a distant six months away.

If that means a carousel is ready to start spinning in the Lakers' back court, so be it. Duhon has played significant minutes in his career. LA likes Morris, but can't afford to let him experiment with turnovers with so much other talent on the floor.

Point guard is the obvious weak spot for this team. Center could also be there, but Jordan Hill figures to be in a three-man rotation with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol for most of the minutes there, and Antawn Jamison could also see some time down low.

That being said, staying healthy is crucial for every position on the roster. But it's more important for Nash, the new captain of the offense, to stay healthy and keep coach Brown from having to decide who his replacement would be.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for the Dallas Mavericks and member of Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team.