Why Steve Nash Is Most Critical Piece of LA Lakers Puzzle Next Season

The Los Angeles Lakers will need Steve Nash to play at a high level in 2013-14 for the team to enjoy some success and possibly earn a playoff berth.

It goes without saying that Kobe Bryant is still the team’s best player as well as the tone-setter. He has set such an incredible standard in terms of his durability and play throughout his career that ownership expects him to recoup from his Achilles surgery and be ready to go by the time training camp starts.

Bryant will still be the Lakers’ alpha male, but surprisingly, the season will not rest on his exploits. Mike D’Antoni already knows what to expect from the former two-time Finals MVP.

However, the coaching staff faces a little uncertainty vis-à-vis Nash’s role and his contributions. The former Phoenix Sun missed a large chunk of the 2012-13 season due to a broken leg.

The Lakers were forced into adapting their style of play and consequently ran an offense predicated on Bryant’s scoring and playmaking. By the time Nash returned to the lineup, he became a spot-up shooter more than anything.

The two-time league MVP still had a few ball-handling responsibilities, but they paled in comparison to his Phoenix days. Nash was a solid point guard in his first season in Los Angeles, but his new role made him appear less than stellar.

When called upon to run the offense, he did so brilliantly and manufactured open shots for his teammates. Bryant was often the beneficiary of Nash’s playmaking, as seen in the video below against the Portland Trail Blazers:

Furthermore, the former Dallas Maverick literally shot the lights out in 2012-13. He did a terrific job of hitting shots off the dribble, especially in the pick-and-roll. Synergy Sports tells us that Nash hit 48.9 percent of his field-goal attempts in screen-and-roll situations in his first year with the Lakers.

Nash was sim...

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