How Much Does Steve Nash's Injury Hurt Reeling L.A. Lakers' Playoff Aspirations?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 3, 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

It's November, the Lakers are 0-3. There are still 79 games left to play in Los Angeles, but it still seems like an important time to talk about playoff positioning in relation to this Lakers team.

After an opening night loss the the Dallas Mavericks, followed by a surprising defeat to Portland and finally falling to the Clippers, Los Angeles has lost three games by a combined 28 points.

Not exactly the start to the season everybody would have expected.

What has now compounded frustration in Los Angeles is an injury to the historically healthy Steve Nash after he and Blazers point guard Damian Lillard banged knees in the second quarter of their game on Halloween.

Nash was held out of the hometown showdown against the Clippers for what was initially called a bruised leg.

Okay, cool. No big deal, right?

Well, maybe not:

Nash diagnosed with small fracture of fibula. Out at least a week.

— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) November 3, 2012

It looks like Nash has a real injury. It may not be too serious, but for a 38-year-old point guard, any kind of moderate injury has to cause some kind of concern.

Nash and the Princeton Offense has been the focus of some headlines recently, mostly pointing to how he's rendered useless at times, but LA's offense hasn't been the big problem.

Now that he's going to be out for a bit we'll see just how important Nash is to Los Angeles' offense.

We've seen the Lakers start Steve Blake in place of Nash, and he hasn't done nearly the job they need him to. Blake can be a decent shooter at times while his ability to run an offense is miles away from Nash, even in an offense that doesn't technically need a point guard.

Nash is a kind of general that's really hard to duplicate, and that was even the case in just two games with the Lakers this season.

What can the Lakers do if Nash's injury lingers and are forced to play the tandem of Blake and Darius Morris?

The short response to that is that they'll likely struggle. In more depth it looks like Kobe Bryant is going to have to go back to running the offense, much like he did last season and for as long as I can remember before that.

Even in the Princeton, there are opportunities for Kobe to take the game in his own hands and win or lose depending on how well his shots are falling. We saw how well that worked last season.

In their game without Nash against the Clippers, Kobe did just that in the fourth quarter. For a stretch he scored 11 of 13 points and ended up with 17 of their 28 for the quarter. His shots fell so the game stayed relatively close.

With Nash out just a week, there will likely be minimal impact on their playoff situation, although you could probably argue that with the start of this season being rough that their playoff situation has already been affected.

While three games is a small slide in relation to an 82-game season, there are endless examples of playoff spots being decided by just a game.

With Nash out, and the Lakers' defense being the real problem for this team through three games, it's going to be harder for them to score enough points to make up for the struggling defense.

Should a Nash injury continue to persist throughout the season, the Lakers could see their offense take a hit to the point that they aren't able to keep games close. If that's the case, then LA could fall out of the top three spot in the Western Conference.

Predicting the impact of a week-long injury in November isn't exactly easy, or even wise to do, but logically this team relies on Nash for more than shooting threes and putting up an assist or two.

If there's one thing that the Lakers have to fall back on, Detroit comes to town on Sunday, giving them a great chance for their first win of the season.