When I had a riveting conversation last week with friend and radio host, Matthew Ross, I had no idea one of my offhand comments would be the catalyst for penning another column but that’s exactly what happened when I said to Ross, ‘if Steve Nash were on the Los Angeles Lakers, they’d be one of the best teams in the west.’
Ross then prompted me to write a column on the hypothetical circumstance and when I agreed that I would, the wheels were in motion for this column. I have however, once again, gone above and beyond the call of duty. Not only have I managed to put Nash on the Lakers in this fantasy column, but two other teams as well – his former team, the Dallas Mavericks because they were so foolish to let him go and another western conference team that would go from pretenders to contenders in a minute with Nash – the Houston Rockets. Now, before I go any further, let me say that each team’s current starting point guard has been removed for the purpose of replacing them with Nash. So, without further adieu, here we go.
Los Angeles Lakers
Let me begin by saying that if Steve Nash were on the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant would probably be averaging 40 points per game. That’s how simple Nash makes the game for his teammates. The backcourt of Bryant and Nash, along with a frontcourt of Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm would probably win more than their fair share of games. I’m guessing somewhere near 50 games. I know that may sound like an outrageous number, but Nash would improve both Brown – an underachiever – and Mihm, an overachiever, immediately, while allowing Odom more of an opportunity to play off the ball and use his length at the small forward position.
The thought of Nash and Bryant in the backcourt together is absolutely scary. All of those tough shots that Bryant now routinely takes with two and sometimes, three defenders draped all over him suddenly become open spot-up jumpers for the game’s deadliest sniper.
I would even go as far as saying that Luke Walton, Devean George and the Lakers other spot-up shooter, Jannero Pargo, would become almost deadly from the perimeter as well. Just think Walton and Pargo instead of Raja Bell and Boris Diaw or Quentin Richardson and Joe Johnson for that matter. The point is, Nash’s presence and ability to penetrate the defense’s interior, makes every player on his team that much better. Not only that, but the modest point guard’s selflessness is also contagious as well. Now, instead of having one great passer, everyone on the floor is looking for open teammates knowing full well that when they themselves are open, someone will find them for an easy basket.
Now, I’m not saying that the Lakers would instantly vault pa ast the San Antonio Suprs as the best team in the west, but I am saying that with Nash, the Lakers are a 50-win team and legitimate championship contender.
It’s not that I don’t like the Mavs current starter, Jason Terry, however, if Nash were still running his old team, the Mavs would be an even better team than the current contender that they are right now.
Nash would transform small forwards Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard from the talented players they both currently are into high-flying scorers in the mold of Shawn Marion. Center, Erick Dampier would also become a viable low post threat whenever Nash penetrates. The incredibly gifted Dirk Nowitzki would also benefit from the endless possibilities he and Nash could create in pick and roll situations.Young point guard Devin Harris would also benefit from watching how efficiently Nash runs an NBA team.
Now, whether this team, even with Nash, could surpass the Spurs, remains a huge question mark as well, but I would say they would be conference finalists at the very least. I still don’t think they could stop Tim Duncan or Nazr Mohammed, but it sure would be fun watching.
The Rockets could use Nash more than any other team on this list. I know they are led by career underachiever, Tracy McGrady, but with Nash on board, that would allow him to take control of the team and let McGrady do what he does best – pump in points. Yao Ming would also become a pick and roll terror with Nash being able to find the nimble giant for both rolls to the basket and pop out jump shots.
High-flying, athletic underachiever, Stromile Swift would also become a beneficiary on fast breaks with Nash and Juwan Howard would probably become rejuvenated as well, knowing he could get good quality looks at the basket with Nash’s help. Young combination guard, Luther Head would also benefit immediately from having Nash as a teammate. He would be another invaluable perimeter shooter and gain infinite experience about running the point from just watching “Stevie Wonder.”
In short, every team in the NBA, barring the New Jersey Nets, who already have a great distributor in Jason Kidd, would benefit from having Steve Nash running their respective teams.
Would he make them all into championship caliber clubs?
Of course not!
Some teams have so many needs, they would need five Steve Nash’s to improve, but he would instantly make every team – and his teammates – better. In short, there is no one in the NBA more proficient at making his teammates better players than Steve Nash. Go ahead and put him on any team in the league and I guarantee that he would improve each player and each team in the league. I firmly believe Nash is unequivocally the most valuable player, not only to the Phoenix Suns, but also to the entire league. Now that’s what I call an MVP.