Culture of Hoops

Steve Nash: How useful will he be this year?

Steve Nash is a big part of the Pacific Division's NBA preview that touches on one question for each NBA team

The day the Los Angeles Lakers signed Steve Nash, many fans of the purple and gold rejoiced. After the Chris Paul trade debacle, they were just happy to feel some sort of victory. Or maybe the Steve Blake/Derek Fisher combo was so truly unbearable the year before that people were just feeling good about having a two-time league MVP create shots for Kobe Bryant.

What some acknowledged at that time, however, was what people are now slowly accepting: Steve Nash is not the key to a championship. He’s a component to winning a ring, but the road does not pass through Nash, as evidenced by his career. Or rather, it passes through Nash, and then keeps right on going.

Nash’s 2012-13 season was fraught with injury, yet aside from the expected dip in assists, his stats remained nearly identical to the previous year.

Season G MP FG FG% 3P 3P% FT FT% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
2004-05 75 34.3 5.7 .502 1.3 .431 2.8 .887 3.3 11.5 1.0 0.1 15.5
2005-06 79 35.4 6.8 .512 1.9 .439 3.3 .921 4.2 10.5 0.8 0.2 18.8
2006-07 76 35.3 6.8 .532 2.1 .455 2.9 .899 3.5 11.6 0.8 0.1 18.6
2007-08 81 34.3 6.0 .504 2.2 .470 2.7 .906 3.5 11.1 0.7 0.1 16.9
2008-09 74 33.6 5.8 .503 1.5 .439 2.6 .933 3.0 9.7 0.7 0.1 15.7
2009-10 81 32.8 6.2 .507 1.5 .426 2.6 .938 3.3 11.0 0.5 0.1 16.5
2010-11 75 33.3 5.3 .492 1.1 .395 3.0 .912 3.5 11.4 0.6 0.1 14.7
2011-12 62 31.6 4.8 .532 0.9 .390 2.0 .894 3.0 10.7 0.6 0.1 12.5
2012-13 50 32.5 4.7 .497 1.1 .438 2.1 .922 2.8 6.7 0.6 0.1 12.7
Career 1202 31.4 5.2 .491 1.4 .428 2.5 .904 3.0 8.5 0.7 0.1 14.4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/24/2013.

What should the Lakers expect from Nash this year? More of the same.

He’s another year older, and he’s had a long offseason to heal, so there’s a chance he can come back for more games this year.

Instead of seeing that Nash was out for a little under half of a season, fans see that they can count on about 12 points a game from Nash. And that’s fine! However, we have no way to quantify how slow he will be; this is the kind of thing people need to be realistic about.

Nash is older, slower and playing fewer and fewer games each year (see chart above). He’s expected to run an offense that relies heavily on speed. No doubt still able to distribute at the expected pace, the question will be whether his body can keep up. Good thing shooting doesn’t deteriorate with age.

Luckily, Steve Blake was looking good last year, and they still have Meeks, who is coming along slowly but surely. These are still not two players who will win a ring for a team, though they can help.

This will definitely be a year of realness for Lakers fans, since Nash is not shiny and new, but he hasn’t blown it for the team yet. In all honesty, if anyone is going to blow it, it won’t be Nash. Sure, he’ll be injured for part of the season (again, see the chart above), but he definitely won’t be the reason they win or lose—unless it comes down to him making free throws in the championship game, in which case, thank your lucky stars that this 90 percent free-throw shooter is on your team.

Be real with yourself, and you won’t be disappointed by Nash.

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