Can Steve Nash Revive His Reputation as a Top-10 Point Guard in the NBA?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer ISeptember 6, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he leaves the court during a timeout with his team leading the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on February 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

If the Los Angeles Lakers hope to qualify for the 2014 NBA postseason, point guard Steve Nash must play like he is still one of the top 10 lead guards in the league. 

Does anyone want to place some bets?

It's easy to get caught up in the player Nash used to be in Phoenix, but reality has a way of killing memories, and in the Lakers' case, expectations.

The truth is that Nash will start the 2013-14 campaign as a 40-year-old point guard coming off a season ravaged by injuries, and it doesn't help that the position Nash mans just happens to be the deepest in the NBA when it comes to elite talent.

Really, Nash as a top-10 point guard next season? 

Nash is no more than the third-best point guard in his own division, behind Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, and in the conference would you place him above Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, and maybe even the Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley or the Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio?

And that's just the West.

Is Nash better than Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving or John Wall in the East?

Good health may help Nash improve on the lowest assist average of his career since the 1999-00 season, but age also has a way of highlighting the flaws in a player's game, which means that Nash's defense could be even worse.

Is that possible?

Nash has never been known for his defensive acumen, and in Phoenix the Suns' best defense was usually racing the ball up the court after an opponent's score in an attempt to catch the defense off guard.

If the Lakers hope to make the playoffs, defense will have to play a pivotal role at some point, but where does Nash fit into that theory?

Some people may suggest hiding Nash and letting the Lakers' best perimeter defender guard the opposing team's point guard, but that doesn't change the fact that Nash will have to guard someone.

And whoever that is will likely have a career scoring night.

Nash's on-ball defense is so bad right now that any player he is matched up with can be elite for a night.

For example, Denver's Ty Lawson is a decent point guard on most nights, but few will ever consider him an elite guard. But put Lawson's speed against Nash, and you get nightmares thinking about the mismatches potentially caused by Lawson blowing by Nash at the point of attack.

In fact, is there any point guard in the NBA that Nash can stay in front of off the dribble?

There used to be a time when Nash's dynamics on offense made up for his disdain of defense, but even if he increases his assists average by two or three a game and maintains his high shooting percentage, Nash's days as a top-10 point guard are in the past.

The Lakers did get younger and more athletic with the additions of Wesley Johnson, Nick Young and Xavier Henry, which means that the team is more suited to play coach Mike D'Antoni's brand of basketball. But where exactly has that gotten any team coached by Mr. No-D?

The Lakers may be more exciting and explosive with a healthy Steve Nash, but they will still lose, and probably big, because the game is played on two ends of the floor.

Beyond Rondo there are not many elite defenders on the list of players Nash is currently looking up to, but the fact remains that it will be much easier for opponents to stop Nash than it will be for Nash to stop whomever he may be guarding.

When it comes to the Lakers, most true fans approach every situation with the mentality of a glass-half-full optimist, but when it comes to Nash, you must consider the other half.