Steve Nash Injury: Lakers PG Must Focus on Improving His Defense This Season

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Head coach Mike Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers  confers with Steve Nash #10 in the game with the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on October 30, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Mavericks won 99-91.  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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images))  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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When Steve Nash finally makes his season debut with the Los Angeles Lakers after missing over a month with a leg injury, his primary goal must be to improve his defensive play.

Will Nash be able to stop the league's best point guards after recovering from a leg injury? This is a real concern for the Lakers, who have struggled on defense at times this year.

The Lakers defense hasn't been awful this season, but it is not on a championship level, and for the team to contend in the Western Conference, it has to improve in several areas.

Here's where the Lakers rank in several important defensive categories thus far:

Category Stat NBA Rank
Defensive FG% .446 15th
Defensive 3-PT % .355 16th
Opponents' PPG 99.4 21st
Opponents' Turnovers 13.6 26th

The Lakers aren't creating enough turnovers on defense, and this has prevented them from igniting their fast break as often as head coach Mike D'Antoni would like.

Los Angeles is also allowing way too many points per game this season. You cannot give up almost 100 points per game and expect to win games consistently, even if your offense has the talent and depth that the Lakers have.

For the Lakers to win the NBA Finals, the team's focus must be on defense. Any team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard is going to score plenty of points each game, so the key to success will be strong defense in all areas of the floor.

Another concern for the Lakers this season has been their transition defense. And with so many of the conference's best teams having rosters full of young and athletic players, D'Antoni has to find ways to improve this area of his team.

When Nash comes back, his primary objective should be to help the Lakers as much as he can defensively, because the Western Conference's best teams are led by talented point guards who excel offensively.

Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors are top-tier point guards who will dominate the Lakers offensively unless Nash is able to improve at the defensive end of the floor.

Nash must improve the Lakers' perimeter and transition defense when he returns. That's how the star point guard can make a positive impact on the team's success this season.