Steve Nash

Though Steve Nash's career might be ending, he will go done as an NBA star

Steve Nash might have already played his last NBA game.

With back and nerve problems that will keep him sidelined the entire season, Nash may not have hoped for an ending like this, but he sure did have one heck of an NBA career.

Due to the primacy effect, it is easy to forget Nash won consecutive MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 with the Phoenix Suns. We are now seeing an aged Nash with a depleted Lakers team while his career is slowly coming to a close.  But at his prime, Nash facilitated one of the most high powered offenses we have seen in his time with Phoenix. That Phoenix team is known to have started the “up-tempo” style of offense we see so much around the league now thanks mostly to Nash.

Led by coach Mike D’antoni, Nash along with Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion averaged a league high 108 points per game. Nash was a double-double machine with points and assist well in double digits. The way Nash weaved through defenses with such ease and orchestrated this high octane offense was a thing of beauty. To truly see his underrated speed and skill of passing, he was one of those players you had to watch live in a stadium at least once.

And how can we forget Nash’s antics in the dunk contest with fellow teammate Stoudemire. Nash used his brilliant soccer skills to kick up the ball for an alley-oop dunk to Stoudemire. He used this creative side to create passing lanes that nobody thought existed and it was these little things that made Nash such a fun loving teammate and player to watch.

As his career may be coming to a close, Nash’s career averages of 14.3 points per game and 8.5 assists per game don’t tell the whole picture. He ranks third overall in total assists and tied first for an almost perfect free throw percentage. Nash is considered to be a lock for the Hall of Fame and its a shame his last few seasons are far short of hall of fame play.

If this truly is the end of his career, it sure was fun. Nash led arguably the best offenses in the league with Dallas and Phoenix for about six seasons in a row in the early 2000s. With all the accolades Nash does hold, lets hope he isn’t remembered by his last dying years of his NBA career and instead the Nash who blew us away by his speed and kept us guessing of what spectacular pass was coming next.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ season has been one of chaos and injuries, especially at the point guard position.

At the beginning of the year, future hall of famer Steve Nash was expected to run the show and maybe surprise fantasy owners by showing some flashes of his days in Phoenix as a member of the Suns. After all, he was ranked 79th overall before the season in Yahoo leagues, ahead of point guards like Isaiah Thomas, Jameer Nelson, Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke and so many more that have been much more valuable thus far due to Nash’s back issues.

Steve Blake was another guy that some expected to be a contributor at the point guard position for the Lakers. Like Nash, the injury bug bit him as well, as he battled a torn elbow ligament.

And then there was Jordan Farmar, who terminated his contract in Turkey to take less money to rejoin the Lakers, but struggled to stay on the court with a nagging hamstring injury.

With these three out, the Lakers were desperate to sign Kendall Marshall, who is just a year-and-a-half removed from being the thirteenth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In the 20 games Marshall played with his fellow point guards injured, he averaged 10.2 points and 9.3 assists per game, making him a great waiver wire pickup.

However, Nash, Blake and Farmar are all back now for the “Lake Show.” Farmar and Nash have received some rest here and there in the three games they have been available, and Blake has played in three straight contests.

The main point – it may be a little difficult for fantasy owners to determine which Lakers point guard will be the guy to own in leagues down the line.

Stemming from their days together in Phoenix, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni is a fan of Nash, saying earlier in the week: “He’ll start, and we’ll see where he is.”

Well, Nash has played and started in two of the three games he has been cleared to play in. On Tuesday, he played an unexpected 25 minutes, finishing with seven points and nine assists. He took a game off and returned to the starting lineup Friday, playing 28 minutes, scoring 19 points and dishing out five assists on his 40th birthday.

D’Antoni also made a case for Blake earlier in the week saying: “we need (him) on the floor, no matter what.”

Blake has been impressive in his three games back, averaging 8.3 points, 9.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds in a hefty 36 minutes per game. That includes a triple-double against Cleveland on Wednesday.

D’Antoni didn’t stop at Blake and Nash, adding that “Farmar deserves to play” too.

Farmar has only played one game recently, and that came Wednesday night against Cleveland when he played 33 minutes, scoring 21 points and gaining six assists.

That leaves Marshall, whom D’Anotni has said will “have to compete.”

With the simultaneous return all the point guards that were expected to play for the Lakers during the first half of the season, fantasy owners are most likely in a quandary on who to grab in their respective leagues.

Who knows what D’Antoni’s real plans are, but I would suggest going with Nash or Blake. D’Anotni has a man crush on Nash, so you can never count him out, and Blake is going to get his minutes at both the point guard and shooting guard positions. Each of these players will get you 3-pointers, assists, occasional rebounds and probably 10 points per game.

Farmar is still making his way back into the lineup, so I don’t think he is trustworthy at this point.

As for Marshall, if you were one to get him off the waiver wire, go ahead and drop him. He is essentially a fourth-stringer now and not going to see the floor as much, barring any more injuries to Nash, Blake or Farmar.

2012-2013 NBA season has been defined by critical injuries

The number of franchises playing without their All-Star players or prospective All-Star players is nearly ludicrous. Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love (just returned), Ricky Rubio, Danny Granger, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose and Amar'e Stoudemire have all missed a significant chunk of the season.

A good team is able to play well with favorable circumstances. But, great teams, the teams that exude championship caliber poise are the ones that muster wins with significant setbacks and injuries.

On the Miami Heat’s road to the 2012 NBA Finals, the Heat had to overcome the absence of their explosive power forward and third scoring option Chris Bosh for several playoff games against the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics. This nearly pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination, but the poise of Lebron James willed them to the ultimate goal.

In the Dallas Maverick’s road to the 2011 NBA Finals, the Mavericks had to overcome a season-ending injury to second-leading scorer Caron Butler. The Mavericks needed other role players Jason Terry and Shawn Marion to step up and eventually produced an outstanding offensive team due to the poise and leadership from veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd.

In the 2010 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in a highly contested Game 7, because they could not overcome the loss of defensive anchor and starting center Kendrick Perkins to a PCL tear in Game 6. These moments define the character and makeup of a team’s grit and resilience.

Thus far in the 2012-2013 season, a few teams have illustrated the ability to overlook their losses and continue to fight. A few have not. Let’s take a quick look at these teams.

Dallas Mavericks:

Despite the absence of Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks have maintained a record above .500. OJ Mayo’s timely rise to stardom keeps the Mavericks more than just afloat and right in the midst of the fiery Western Conference playoff hunt.

Philadelphia 76ers:

The 76ers front office fought hard to bring franchise player Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. However, with Bynum’s knee issues lingering potentially into mid-season, Jrue Holiday had to become the franchise’s savior. He has averaged nearly 18 points and eight assists a game to keep the 76ers afloat until Bynum’s return.

Minnesota Timberwolves:

The Timberwolves probably had the most arduous task -- they had to play without electrifying playmaker Ricky Rubio and their most productive power forward Kevin Love. However, Nikola Peković stepped up in a big way to make up for the rebounding and scoring deficiencies caused by Love’s absence.

Indiana Pacers:

The Pacers should technically be performing the best because of their dependence on a more balanced and collective offensive attack. David West, Roy Hibbert and George Hill are all excellent scoring options. However, this team has failed to live up to expectations with a sub .500 record thus far.

Los Angeles Lakers:

The Lakers were confused to say the least while trying to play the Princeton Offense without Nash. However, with the dismissal of Mike Brown and arrival of new coach Mike D’Antoni guiding the offense in LA, the Lakers have managed to win four of their last five.

Chicago Bulls:

Considering that a Rose-less Bulls was a .600 team last season, the Bulls going .455 thus far is actually quite disappointing. Perhaps it is becoming evident that the Bulls cannot compete in a superstar league without their own superstar.

New York Knicks:

The best team in the NBA thus far. They have done this without All-Star power forward Amar'e Stoudemire. Quite honestly though, they are so much better without Stoudemire. A Knicks team with either Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire would fare well. But, a Knicks team with both suffers from severe defensive lapses, rebounding deficiencies and chemistry issues.

The grit and resilience developed through these arduous times often define a team. Only time can tell which of these teams have developed that resilience.