One of the worst fears for veteran teams such as the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers is losing a key player due to injury.
Although the Lakers’ bench was upgraded at a few positions (at forward with Antawn Jamison and shooting guard with Jodie Meeks), their most glaring hole on their second unit is point guard. It was thrust to forefront when Steve Nash went down with a lower leg fracture that will sideline him up to four weeks (via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times).
Enter last-season holdover Steve Blake into the starting lineup, with third-stringer Darius Morris now the primary backup. If that combination makes you cringe a bit, don’t worry—you aren't alone. The sentiment is echoed by Lakers fans worldwide.
The question is, can the Lakers sustain any type of organization on the court with a reserve point guard rotation that has been in flux since the preseason?
The same can be said for Morris, who saw his first action of the season against the Clippers and Pistons. Morris flashed the potential that got him drafted in the second round in 2011, but for every good play Morris made, he showed a tendency to lose focus.
What’s interesting is that for all of Morris’ lack of experience, coach Mike Brown trusts him over veteran Chris Duhon, who has been buried on Brown’s bench since his arrival as part of the Dwight Howard trade.
It’s not as if Duhon is terrible; he holds a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.89-to-1. That’s not bad for a reserve PG. Duhon is also a decent long-range shooter and defender. So why Duhon isn’t seeing the floor is as much your guess as mine.
It appears as if Brown prefers Morris’ youth and energy over Duhon’s experience. Given the Lakers' age, it’s tough to argue against that logic.
The Lakers collectively have enough talent on the roster to cover up for Morris’ mistakes in the 10 to 15 minutes of playing time he’ll be receiving in Nash’s absence—not to mention Morris will gain valuable early season minutes of competitive basketball. When you look at the situation from that angle, Nash’s injury can be spun as something of a blessing in disguise.
Is the Lakers‘ backup point guard situation as much of a mess as it initially appears? Not quite.
Not only is Blake a capable fill-in on a short-term basis, but Morris gets the opportunity to learn on the fly. Nash’s injury can convert what was once an area of deficiency into an area of strength for the Lakers this season.