The impact of returning injured players
by Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
On each Friday, The NBA A-Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt will take on a topic or topics from around the league to discuss. This week, they talk about how the upcoming return of some notable injured players will impact their teams.
OK guys, let’s start with the guy everyone’s talking about, Steve Nash. What will his impact be on the Los Angeles Lakers?
Amick: In a word: huge. Counter-intuitive though it may be, a 38-year-old Nash is still fully capable of working his magic in the sort of ways that can save the Lakers’ season (or at least make sure they get into the playoffs). He convinced me last season that he’s far from over the hill.
In a subtle-yet-remarkable feat for which he never received enough credit, Nash led a Suns team that had a serious dearth of talent to a 33-33 record while playing some of the most efficient, symbiotic basketball we’ve ever seen. Anyone noticed that center Marcin Gortat, who was last season’s leading scorer for the Suns, isn’t quite the same player since Nash left town? Funny how that seems to happen to players when they part ways with guys like Nash and Jason Kidd.
To wit: Last season, Nash trailed only Boston’s Rajon Rondo in assist percentage (the percentage of baskets assisted on when he’s on the floor) with a mark of 49.1 (Rondo was 49.8), shot 53.2 percent overall to lead all point guards in that category by a nearly five-percent margin (Denver’s Ty Lawson was at 48.8), and nearly notched a 50-40-90 season (field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage) that would have been the fifth of his career and 12th overall in the history of the game among players who played the majority of their respective season. Nash finished at 53.2, 39.0 on threes and 89.4 at the line.
All of which is to say he will help a lot, with one major qualifier: all of this stands true IF this nagging nerve in his left leg stops, well, getting on his nerves. Nash can only be Nash if he’s feeling fully healthy, … [For more on What does return of injured players do for NBA teams?, click here.]