I have been wrong before — and I am probably wrong now — but I am 97% sure all of the Lakers’ hopes now rely on Nash. Kobe, Pau, and Howard have to also play really, really well, of course, but I don’t think that is necessarily the end-all for what it will take to win a title. The Thunder and Heat are both teams who have played together for several years now, and they are both extremely talented as well. I think the Lakers are clearly more talented at this point than either of those teams, but it comes down to Nash because the talent difference is not big enough that the Lakers don’t have to play extremely well together.
In this respect, it comes down to Kobe as well. Is Kobe capable of letting Nash have the ball to do what he needs to do for the Lakers to be great? I could him resisting letting Nash run the show, and that would be a big mistake. In a team sense, the Lakers have three guys (outside of Nash himself, that is) who are capable of being dominate scorers. Yes, even Dwight Howard, who could absolutely explode as a scorer now that he is playing with a point guard of Nash’s caliber. When you have three guys who can dominate on offense, the best plan of attack is usually to put all three in a position to attack, attack, attack and succeed. This isn’t just a case of keeping everyone happy — it’s a case of having an offense that attacks weak spots and consistently surprises.
It’s about having the kind of dynamic offense Nash usually runs.
Kobe should be down with this idea, and I think it is the idea that will sell him on giving up the ball to Nash. Then there is the idea that I think Kobe will refuse to consciously admit to himself, but is just as true — giving Nash the ball is good for Kobe. I’m not sure how many easy shots Kobe has had since he became a star versus extremely difficult shots, but I imagine it’s not a pretty ratio. And as he has lost his athleticism a little bit, those shots seem to require more work. Nash is good at making things easier for other players. He can get the ball to Kobe in a situation where Kobe doesn’t need to work as hard to get off his shot.
I personally don’t think Kobe will accept that as a reason. I am fairly sure he wants to exude the idea that he lives on an island as far as his-own-self is concerned. He makes other people better — not the other way. Unless Kobe has turned in a corner in regards to egotism in his old age, he won’t admit that maybe it would be good for someone to help him make his job easier. At least he may not say it — definitely not out loud, but also not in his own head.
In this instance, it may take Kobe warming up to the idea. He has to feel how much better it is when Nash has the ball in an actual game. He has to get off a few easy shots and kind of like it. Then he needs to crave it. Of course, this is Kobe and the ball will be in his hands at times — that’s part of keeping the offense surprising, and that’s part of letting Kobe feel like he’s still Kobe.
As a final aside, another hurdle for the team — or at least the marketing department — is how unlikable the Lakers probably are after the Dwight Howard trade. In this respect, the Lakers’ hopes rely on Nash as well. People are going to want the Lakers to lose — except people are also going to want Nash to finally win a title. He is a likable dude, and if anyone outside of Lakers fans are going to not hate the Lakers, it is going to be because Nash is on that team.
Of course, if the marketing Gods push Nash too much, Kobe might actually go insane, and then the whole thing falls apart.