A brief look at Nash’s career
A history without a point guard
Now let’s look at the record for the Lakers’ starting point guards over that time:
The Nash effect
Over the past 12 years, Steve Nash has been well above average every single year. He only fell short of stardom (0.200 WP48) twice, and not by much. Leaving aside the lockout season of 2012 (where he once again excelled, with his best WP48 since 2007’s career peak), Nash has averaged 13.4 Wins Produced per season, and never failed to hit double-digits. And despite the fact that most players begin to decline precipitously after age 30, Nash has continued to produce at a Stocktonian pace.
In contrast, Lakers starting PGs have been below average in half of those years. The single best performance was Gary Payton’s much maligned 2004 campaign (which actually wasn’t bad). Nevertheless, even Payton’s 2004 fell far short of stardom (.154) and failed to reach double-digits in Wins Produced. The average Wins Produced by Lakers starting PGs in that time is 4.5.
What this analysis suggests is that Nash is likely to add 5-7 wins to the Lakers’ total. This year, the Lakers finished 3 wins behind the Thunder and 9 wins behind the Spurs. The addition of Nash should keep the Lakers in contention for the 2 or 3 seed in the West. The real opportunity lies in the possibility that Nash actually makes the players around him better. Amare Stoudemire, for example, has been average to below-average his entire career, with the exception of his years with Nash (Editor’s note: We also accept the fact that Stoudemire aged and had dealt w/ injury post-Nash). He had his best season in 2008, when he was post-microfracture surgery, and was actually a star (0.208 WP48).
Despite his gaudy scoring numbers, Kobe Bryant was a below-average player last year (.047 WP48, or slightly worse than Derek Fisher last year). If Nash can help reverse Bryant’s decline, and return him to even an average win producer, the Lakers could well gain another 5 games in the standings, which would make them a championship contender.
ESPNLA reported that the Lakers are likely to keep Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum now that they have Nash. This makes perfect sense. With Nash, Gasol, and Bynum, the Lakers would field a team with three real stars…and if Nash could rejuvenate Bryant to 2008 form, perhaps even a fourth. (As a Nuggets fan and anti-Laker fan I will say this is wishful thinking!)