LA Lakers Officially All-in on Steve Nash After Steve Blake Injury

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LA Lakers Officially All-in on Steve Nash After Steve Blake Injury
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Some will scoff at Mike D'Antoni and the Los Angeles Lakers' dependence upon Steve Nash to right their ever-growing list of cumulative wrongs, yet the reality is they don't have a choice.

That's what Steve Blake's abdomen dictates, anyway.

You see, when it comes point guards, there's lucky, unlucky, 50 feet of oblivion and then the Lakers.

Los Angeles was thought to have struck gold when it acquired Nash from the Phoenix Suns over the summer, but all it really did was land a perpetual headache.

Nash has appeared in only two games and, according to the crafty floor general himself (via the Los Angeles Daily News), he's still 10-14 days away from returning.

To make matters even worse, however, the Lakers announced that Nash's backup Blake will undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle, thereby keeping him on the sidelines for another six to eight weeks.

As such, ill-fated doesn't even begin to describe Los Angeles' backcourt struggles at the moment. Sure, they have the agelessly ferocious Kobe Bryant, but outside of him, heavy burdens have been placed upon the shoulders of Chris Duhon and Darius Morris, two athletes who were supposed to play bit roles this season.

Of course, it won't always be like that, because again, Nash should return in two weeks' time. From there, it's a matter of the Lakers placing the fate of their offense, the fate of the entire team in the 38-year-old hands of Nash.

Nash is officially the Lakers' playmaking end-all.
I must ask for you to forgive me in advance for being more cautious than optimistic.

Nash is a fine point guard, one of the best there has ever been, but as his latest injury proves, he's not immune to the frailties that come with getting older. We don't even know how healthy he'll be when he actually returns, and already Los Angeles is forcibly going all-in on a playmaker who is just two games deep into the season.

Is that a recipe for success?

In all honesty, it might be. We've seen Nash orchestrate brilliance under D'Antoni before, culminating in the attainment of two consecutive MVP awards. There's no doubt in my mind that he can still play.

But I do have doubts, ambiguities that stem from how heavy a burden Nash is able to carry at this point.

Clearly, his averages of 4.5 points and four assists per game are the result of a deficient Princeton Offense, but can he still be that same point guard D'Antoni ran ragged in Phoenix? 

In four years under D'Antoni's instruction, Nash averaged no less than 34.3 minutes per game, and that came on a younger roster that was stocked with combo guards who could run the offense. Are we supposed to believe he's used any less sparingly now that his backup is going miss more than half the season?

Even at 38, the answer is no, absolutely not.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Nash meant everything to the Lakers well before this.
"In Phoenix, we couldn't win without him," D'Antoni (via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com) had said of Nash. "Not even a game."

At this juncture, though, such dependence for the Lakers is no longer opinion. It's a fact.

Blake isn't what you would consider a game-changer, but he's a veteran floor general who can distribute the ball and direct Los Angeles' array of offensive talent.

The subpar floor instincts of Duhon and the rawness of Morris, however, can't. Combined, they're averaging just 5.3 assists per game, and the Lakers find themselves 21st in the league with 21.1 assists per contest as a result.

That needs to change. As deft a passer as Kobe Bryant is, he shouldn't be leading the team in assists, especially at 5.1 a contest.

With Blake and Nash running the show, there was confidence that such a reality could be spared, that the playmaking burden wouldn't fall on one point guard's shoulders.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Is Nash going to be able to carry the Lakers the way he did the Suns?
Yet now, for the sub-.500 Lakers it has. On the shoulders of one who hasn't played in over month and is still two weeks away from returning, no less.

So now, it's all up to Nash. The Lakers are officially all-in on Nash.

"We're bouncing along a little bit and we hope that he has the same effect he had in Phoenix," D'Antoni had said well before the news on Blake broke.

Meaning?

Even before Blake's extended leave, it was always going to be up to Nash to make the most of this team.

The only difference now is that the Lakers have nowhere else turn if it doesn't work out.

 

All stats in this article are accurate as of December 3, 2012.

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