What do you get when you take the second-leading scorer in the NBA who dominated the ball for his team last year and add a point guard who finished second in the league in assists? That’s what we’ll get to find out this year thanks to the new Kobe-Nash backcourt at the Staples Center.
In the biggest move by a title-contender to date in the NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers landed Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers immediately jumped to in many people’s minds to favorite status in the Western Conference. This year, their offense looks to be one of the best in the league on paper and should give the Thunder and the Spurs all they can handle through the regular season and into the playoffs barring injury.
I love the move for the Lakers in the short-term, but their championship window is as short as any team in the league. If they don’t get it done this year, maybe Magic will finally get the blow-up-the-team that he’s been calling for. Nash is 38 and by the end of the deal he’ll be 4o, two years older then Jason Kidd was this past season. If your a Lakers fan you’ve got to be excited though as your team is definitely “all in” headed into the coming season.
As the season approaches, there are sure to be more moves made heading into everyone’s annual fantasy basketball draft. Let’s take a look at who wins and loses from the move with the rosters as currently constituted. When other moves go down, check back at Fansided.com for more reaction and analysis.
Pau Gasol – Gasol is the current Laker whose game best matches up with what Nash has run in the past. Nash and Gasol on the pick-and-roll would be brutal for teams to defend. In Nash’s style of fluid ball movement offense, Gasol would be a natural fit and be able to utilize his passing skills and mid-range jumper to pick up plenty of points and assists. If Gasol stays put, he’s a solid second round pick in most 10 team leagues. I would take him ahead of Bynum simply because he’s more of a known commodity and there’s very little down-side unless he gets moved to a different team.
Steve Nash – Nash is not going to be relied on to score a large portion of the Lakers points, but that’s when he functions at his best. Don’t draft him for scoring, but do draft him highly. With the Suns last season, Nash averaged 10.7 assists and in February didn’t have less than nine in any of the 13 games he played. For one stretch of last season Nash had double-digit assists in 19 of 22 games. All of those numbers were while playing for a Suns team with less offensive talent than the Lakers will have coming into this season. If you want assists from your point guard, only Rajon Rondo can even be considered in the same class with Nash. The added rest of a regular-paced season will only enhance his number and I think he can easily average 13-15 assists and 10-15 points making him a late second or early third round pick.
Andrew Bynum – As he typically is, Bynum is the big wild card here. He could mesh with Nash and become Amare-in-his-good-years but hopefully with more desire to hit the boards. I could easily see him being the top center in the league this year (yes, DH12, we’re still waiting for you to make up your mind). The problem with Bynum is not his ability; any questions about the big man start with his motivation. He’s shown a tendency to disappear and play lax at times. If Nash can help solve that, Bynum is pure gold. If Bynum remains an enigma, he may not remain a Laker for long.
Opposing PG’s playing the Lakers – As good as the Lakers offense will be, their perimeter defense will leave much to be desired. Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, and even Mike Conley have crushed the Lakers for big games over the past couple seasons, and it doesn’t look like the situation will be getting any more difficult for them. At this stage in his career, Nash lacks the quickness to stay with the more athletic point guards in the league which should lead to great games for all the above mentioned guards when they play the high-scoring Lakers.
Kobe Bryant – I still think Kobe’s a first-round pick, don’t get me wrong. With the move, He fits at the end of the round at nine or ten as opposed to five or six. His risk-level jumped quite a bit with this addition as well. If the Lakers offense works like it should though, his teammates should be taking some of the scoring load off of Bryant. Bryant needs to be fresh for the playoffs and for big games where LA needs a mammoth performance from him, that should be more possible than last year with Nash raising the game of the other players on the court. Getting Nash is a huge boost to Kobe’s chances at a ring, but probably a small knock on his final stats for the year.
Amare Stoudemire – The Knicks forward would have welcomed Steve Nash to New York and put the band back together that earned him his Big Apple contract. Now, it looks like he’ll run with Jason Kidd and Jeremy Lin who are definitely good PG but definitely not Steve Nash. Stoudemire is still a solid pick if he can stay healthy, but I wouldn’t pick him until the 6th or 7th round which means some crazed Knicks-believer will have him way before me in most leagues.
Ramon Sessions – The outside chance that he would be the full-time starting point guard for the Lakers for a full season made him an intriguing selection in the draft this year. With the Nash acquisition, it looks like the PG carousel may end up with him in Dallas or possibly Houston. He’s still an interesting late-round pick if he’s getting starter’s minutes, but there’s no potential landing spot that would serve him as well as staying with LA would have.
Zach Thompson is a Fansided contributor and lead editor at FantasyCPR.com.