How Steve Nash and Pau Gasol Can Help Kobe Bryant This Season

Expect big bounce-back performances from Steve Nash and Pau Gasol this season.

With Kobe Bryant's return date from an Achilles tear still unknown, it will be on Nash and Gasol to keep the Los Angeles Lakers afloat in a deep Western Conference.

Last season was the worst year in a decade for both Nash and Gasol. Two future Hall-of-Famers, who pride themselves on their ability to contribute to a team, will make sure it doesn't happen again.

Whether Bryant is in the lineup or not, the two wily old veterans will help him shoulder the burden, particularly on the offensive end.

Here's how they can do so.


Pick, Roll and Repeat

Nash used to be the premier pick-and-roll point guard in the NBA but saw his PNR chances decline drastically last season as he shifted to more of an off-ball role.

Without Bryant to begin the 2013-14 campaign, Nash should have the ball in his hands constantly once more. Mike D'Antoni will incorporate more of his system this year with his old muse at the helm, giving Nash plenty of freedom to wheel and deal out of the pick-and-roll.

Nash doesn't get the same penetration he used to in his heyday, but he's still a threat to knock down outside shots if opponents go under the screen.

His vision is still top class as well.

Nash can manipulate defenders off the ball and open up hidden passing angles. His creative array of off-hand and unorthodox passes catches defenders off guard and gives his teammates an extra second to get off a quality shot.

Nash was still an elite screen-and-roll player last season.

According to, Nash was in the top-seven percent in the NBA in points per possession as a PNR ball-handler. And those numbers don't even include his assists.

Gasol, meanwhile, is a perfect PNR partner for Nash. He can roll hard to the rim and finish with ...

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