Christmas might come early for the Lakers, Nash could play Saturday
The Los Angeles Lakers have waited long enough for Steve Nash's return and it's been reported that the wait is almost over.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: As great of a point guard Nash is, I'm not sure he's going to be the Lakers' savior this season.
Nash, 38, has been sidelined for almost two months after suffering an injury to his lower left leg on October 31st in the Lakers second game of the regular season against Portland. Nash had only two points and four assists at the time of his injury, which occured in the first half of that game, and averaged just 4.5 points and 4 assists in the only two games he played this season as one of the newest members of the Los Angeles Lakers.
When reporters were granted access to Lakers practice on Thursday, Nash was working out hard with the team and competing at what appeared to be almost full strength in the team scrimmage.
"I felt pretty good," Nash commented after practice when asked about his status. "I thought it went well. I felt a little bit better than what I thought it would feel, but we'll see how it feels in the morning."
When questioned about whether or not he would be expected to play in Saturday's game against the Warriors, Nash said, "It depends how it responds (today) and (we'll) see how I feel Saturday when I wake up. We don't need to rush it. I don't want to come back too soon."
Based on Nash's comments, it seems more likely that he will sit out on Saturday and make his return on Christmas day against the New York Knicks.
While Nash is smart to not rush his return, (and on a side note, its refreshing that we're seeing a lot of players in the league take more time than maybe necessary to recover fully from injury; Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Ricky Rubio to name a few) I'm not so sure that Nash is going to be the answer the struggling Lakers have been looking for. Although the team is currently riding out a 3-game win streak, the Lakers are still two games under .500 at 12-14 overall this year. And while Nash will definitely bring a greater sense of cohesion and leadership presence on the court, I'm not sure that the 38-year old veteran will be able to help their transition defense, which has killed them all season. According to the bleacherreport.com, "What it comes down to is the Lakers are failing to execute transition defense in the most basic way possible. Coaches always talk about positioning yourself between your man and the ball, but many of the Lakers are content watching the ball."
But that doesn't mean that the Lakers can't recover. As one of the best point guards to play the game, Nash will certainly help the squad on offense, no doubt about that. But he will have to be a leader on the court defensively as well in order for the Lakers to compete with talented, youthful backcourts like those in Oklahoma City, Memphis and even on their Tinseltown rival Clippers. Remember, Nash is 38, Kobe is 34, World Peace is 33, Antawn Jamison is 36, and Pau, at 32, can't run up and down the court like he used to.
Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who has been critical of the purple and gold all season, said of Nash and the Lakeshow, "They need a leader out there. I think he will help on both calling the plays, getting the guys in easy scoring positions as well as he can add some scoring himself. I think the point guards the Lakers are having now, they are so inconsistent and they don't know how to really lead the guys. But when Steve comes back he can do that. He's a master of the pick and roll. So I think he'll give them a lot of easy buckets." Johnson continued.
And Magic is right, they'll definitely get more buckets with Nash on the court.
But come playoff time, it's going to be more about preventing buckets, than scoring them.
What do you think, Hoopsvibers?? Will Nash save LA and turn them into a championship contender? Leave us your comments below!
Image source: WENN Images