The 4th of July: beer, hot dogs, fireworks and Steve Nash? That’s what this past Independence Day brought to the Lake Show. Although this move delighted Laker fans, is it enough to get the Lakers over the Western Semifinals hump?
On the surface, this looks like a great move for the Lakers. Trading draft picks and cash for a future hall-of-famer is a no-brainer. It is an immediate upgrade for a position that was a hindrance all of last season. Ramon Sessions, who was the temporary band-aid fix at last year’s trade deadline, opened the door for this move by opting out of the last year of his player-option deal. Lakers point guards were close to last in the league in production last season, and were a defensive liability (this was most evident in the playoffs against speedy point guards Ty Lawson and Russell Westbrook). Nash certainly helps with the production need at this position, as he has averaged a double-double with points/assists for three straight seasons. But at 38 years old, Nash isn’t exactly going to help defensively. He will struggle to keep up defensively with the younger, speedier guards who have dominated the NBA the past few seasons.
Another problem with the current roster for the Lakers is the bench. The bench was dead last in scoring last season at 20.5 ppg. To put that number in perspective, it is less than half of what the league’s leading bench produced on a nightly basis (Denver Nuggets – 41.5 ppg). Laker fans knew no lead was safe, as the likes of Troy Murphy, Matt Barnes and Josh McRoberts were sure to make it an uphill battle for Kobe and company once they needed a breather. So although a starting lineup of Nash-Kobe-Metta-Pau-Bynum is a formidable one, it does not add any depth or substance to this squad as a team.
So what then is the solution to get this team back to the NBA Finals? If I knew the answer to that question, I would have Mitch Kupchak’s job. But I don’t, so therefore I’m not an NBA GM. Many people are holding out hope that the Lakers can acquire Orlando center Dwight Howard. Although this would make for a very interesting potential starting lineup of Nash-Kobe-(insert SF here)-Pau-Howard (if Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace are traded for Howard), this move still does not improve the bench. If the starters can play a full 48 minutes on a nightly basis, this team has the potential to win 70 games. But since that’s not possible, other options may have to be considered. Are there ways to improve the bench with available free agents instead of trying to make the big splash of landing Howard? Can a player currently on the roster be released through the amnesty clause in an effort to add a couple players to add depth to the team? These are all things to be considered in the coming weeks and months leading up to the regular season.
So was trading for Steve Nash a great pickup for the Lakers? Absolutely. Does the move automatically propel the Lakers back to the NBA Finals? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of question marks with this team the way it is currently constructed. But Kupchak and company have shown the ability to make moves virtually out of nowhere, and it’s safe to say they are not done yet. The front office will make another move or two before all is said and done in an effort to get Kobe his sixth ring, and the organization its 17th NBA Championship.
What do you think of Steve Nash going to LA? Let us know in the comments!