The Los Angeles Lakers' season is in danger of cycling out of control.
At least they beat the Wizards, right?
The problems are many. Lack of flow. Bad chemistry. Poor defense. Terrible free-throw shooting. Where do you start?
You start with the (missing) point guard, right?
In theory, this team still has many of the components needed to contend. And yet, this squad looks old, tired and generally uninspiring.
But wait, Steve Nash is coming. When Nash comes back, all will be well.
Jim Rome was discussing the Lakers on December 13 and put the situation in context. To paraphrase, Rome noted that if a basketball team is waiting for a 38-year-old point guard to save it, that franchise is reaching desperately for success.
Granted, Nash is not your typical 38-year-old point guard. However, Rome may have a point. What exactly is Nash going to bring to the table that will vault the Lakers back into contention?
In addition, if Nash is the key to success with this team, why did Mike Brown have to be fired? Is Mike D’Antoni doing much better?
If and when Nash returns, the Lakers could still be a subpar defensive squad, particularly around the perimeter. Los Angeles is 22nd in the league in terms of points allowed per game at 99.5 points per contest.
Nash is not exactly a great on-the-ball defender, and while he will have Dwight Howard behind him, Nash's return does not necessarily equal an upgrade in team defense.
Nash is a very good free-throw shooter (90.4 percent for his career), but overall the team may still struggle from the line. Granted, Chris Duhon is shooting a paltry 57.1 percent from the line, so Nash will certainly be an upgrade in that category.
Duhon is averaging 3.8 assists per game, while Nash averaged 10.7 last season.
You could argue that Nash could solidify the offense and provide stability on the floor. The challenge is that the Lakers are already a team that can score. This is not necessarily the biggest weakness. Players like Pau Gasol may be struggling to find the right role, but any team with Kobe Bryant is going to be able to put points on the board.
Nash is also not necessarily going to inspire an up-tempo offense, simply because the Lakers do not have the athletes to play a fast-paced style.
Yes, the Lakers could attempt to trade Gasol for some young runners, but at this point it seems unlikely that Los Angeles could get equal value. If the Lakers trade Gasol, they may be conceding a title run for the next couple of years.
Other teams might look at this situation and conclude that it is time to think about rebuilding. That is not exactly the Lakers way.
Will the Lakers be an improved squad with Steve Nash at the helm? Clearly.
Will they instantly become a contender? Doubtful.
There is much work to be done, and the season is moving along very quickly.
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