Steve Nash made his much-anticipated return to the hardwood on Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. With the Lakers stumbling out of the gate to begin the season, many were eyeing Nash's return as the first step in curing whatever ailed the purple and gold.
While the Lakers were able to erase a 14-point deficit and beat the Warriors 118-115 in overtime, their season has still been filled with many disappointments that have some questioning whether this superstar-stacked team is even close to being the championship contender they were labeled as this past offseason.
So will Steve Nash continue the trend and be another disappointment for the Lakers? The answer is both yes and no.
Offensively is where Nash won't disappoint. While the Lakers' offense didn't look very different against the Warriors - despite him resuming his ball-handling duties in a D'Antoni-orchestrated offense - just the threat of Nash running the pick-and-roll is enough to make the opposing defenses quiver with fear.
Against the Warriors, the timing wasn't completely down with his teammates, but you were able to see glimpses of where Nash's brilliant offensive mind will make everyone on the court with him that much better, especially Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
Kobe Bryant recognizes that Nash's presence alone takes some of the pressure off himself and the other Lakers, helping keep the team calm and poised. "Like you saw tonight, I had 41 shots and a lot of them were just off of pin-downs, catching and going to the hole just 'cause Steve is able to dictate a lot of that stuff and it just makes it a lot easier on me."
On the defensive side of the ball is a completely different issue. Nash was absolutely torched by anyone and everyone he was guarding on the Warriors with Jarrett Jack doing the bulk of the damage, posting 29 points and 11 assists.
His inability to stay in front of Jack, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson led to several defensive breakdowns which equaled easy buckets for Golden State. They were lucky enough to escape with the win at Oracle Arena, but if this trend continues, there won't be many other four-game win streaks in L.A.'s immediate future.
Of course, Nash has never been known for his defensive prowess (neither has Mike D'Antoni) and never will be, so is that enough of a reason to call him a possible disappointment? Well, yes.
Adding more defensive issues to the already present ones further perpetuates the problem and will continue to grow into an even bigger problem that will ultimately prevent the Lakers from achieving any type of long-term success.
Nash's return should spark L.A. for a little while but for him to be expected to help carry this team to sustained success over the next few months isn't exactly realistic.
He will continue to make the lives of each Laker easier simply with his passing ability and ability to cause havoc by getting into the teeth of the defense, but that doesn't fix the glaring issue the Lakers have on the opposite side of the court.
It will be a mixed bag of results for Steve Nash and the Lakers until they can develop the chemistry and cohesion that championship contenders like the Spurs, Thunder and Heat currently possess. Until then, the possibility of Nash being a disappointment will continue to linger.
The Lakers now have all of their pieces in place to try and prove all the doubters wrong. It is now strictly up to them to deliver and finally meet their skyscraper-tall expectations.
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