Nash still finding niche with the Lakers
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Seven months after the separation, the sight of Steve Nash at work at the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice facility is not so strange.
Nash appears comfortable in purple and gold and with his co-workers. He smiles and jokes in between the labor. His first return to Phoenix — and Los Angeles’ game against the Suns — was two weeks ago, closing his chapter in Phoenix until he enters the Suns’ Ring of Honor.
One thing remains unfamiliar about Nash on the basketball court. It is the style Nash is playing. After nine years of conducting an offense that allowed him to control the ball most of the time, Nash now must frequently defer.
“It’s hard at first, just trying to get a rhythm for it,” Nash said. “I’m trying to embrace it. Just do what I can to help the team in different ways. I feel like I’m getting better at it and helping the team.
“I’d like to obviously have a bigger impact on games. I feel like I can, but at the same time, we’ve got to massage all the pieces. To be too authoritative in that can be really disruptive. I’m just trying to help how I can, embrace and be effective in an adjusted role and try to enjoy it.”
The changed role and a 39th birthday have again prompted a perception that Nash is deteriorating and deserves some of the blame for the Lakers’ 25-28 mark. Nash, an All-Star a year ago, is shooting 51.8%, but is taking his fewest shots per game (8.7) since 1999-2000.
His 42.7% three-point shooting is his best in four years. He is still one of the best free-throw shooters in NBA history.
The change is with 7.4 assists per game, his fewest since 2002-03. He shares the initiating and playmaking with Kobe Bryant. It is as unfamiliar for Suns fans as it is for Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers coach who turned his system over to Nash as Phoenix’s coach from 2004 to 2008.
“Ideally, coming into it, we had a certain vision, but we changed up a lot and he (Nash) has been … [For more on Steve Nash still finding his niche with the Lakers, click here.]