Lakers depth chart breakdown: Steve Nash

Can Lakers guard Steve Nash avoid suffering a major injury in the 2014-15 season? David Crane–Staff Photographer

Can Lakers guard Steve Nash avoid suffering a major injury in the 2014-15 season? David Crane–Staff Photographer

Below is the first in a series previewing the story lines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2014-15 season. This post focuses on Lakers guard Steve Nash.

1. Can Steve Nash stay healthy during the 2014-15 season?
Only two years ago, the Lakers believed they secured their best point guard since Magic Johnson once graced the hardwood. But instead of frustrating opponents with dazzling no-look passes, Nash has frustrated a restless fan base with persisting injuries. No one can blame Nash for countless ailments that entailed a fractured left leg two years ago that sidelined him for 24 games only the second game into the season. Or the continuous nerve irritation in his hamstrings and back last season that kept him out for all but 15 games. Yet, the 40-year-old Nash has not offered the Lakers much hope that he can step on the floor without experiencing more setbacks.

So why should Nash feel any more encouraged entering his final year on his contract with the Lakers? Well, he progressed through his rehab relatively faster than last season just by virtue that he could barely run during the 2013 offseason and that he entered training camp pretty rusty. Nash also spent this offseason actually training instead of mostly rehabbing. This has not convinced the Lakers enough that Nash will stay healthy. Hence, why they acquired Jeremy Lin. But Nash could show more flashes of rare brilliance, such as a 19-point effort on his 40th birthday against Philadelphia or other countless sequences where he set up teammates beautifully. This will not necessarily translate into Nash replicating one of his two MVP-caliber seasons. But should he manage to stay on the court, Nash could offer some feel-good moments on a team that will need plenty of them.

Beyond his health, the only other question mark for Nash entails how he will run Byron Scott’s offense. Point guards, such as Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, thrived under Scott. But his system will also face some elements of the Princeton offense, something that clearly put Nash out of his comfort zone when former Lakers coach Mike Brown tried to run it two seasons ago. Scott stressed in a recent interview that his system will be different and show more similarities to Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. Still, there will have to be some give-and-take given Nash has shown he thrives most when he runspick-and-roll sets in a faster-paced offense.
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Lakers depth chart breakdown: Kobe Bryant

Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen (9) defends Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Memphis Grizzlies’ Tony Allen (9) defends Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Below is the first in a series previewing the story lines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2014-15 season. This post focuses on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

1. How will Bryant play following two major injuries? Whether they continue their fall toward mediocrity or quickly climb back to championship prominence, the Lakers’ 2014-15 season will still become a must-see event for partly one significant reason. Seeing how Bryant charts his comeback will become intriguing regardless of what scenario happens. If he becomes the elite player that once won five NBA championships and climbed up to fourth place on the league’s all-time scoring list, Bryant will further cement his legacy in overcoming injuries and finding ways to innovate his game. If he become a shell of himself, frustration could emerge out of Bryant’s inability to figure things out as strongly as he once could.

So what scenario will play out? A huge variable, of course, depends on if Bryant can still healthy. But the other variable also hinges on how well Bryant adjusts his game. The overriding consensus suggests Bryant’s strong fundamentals with his footwork and post play can offset any diminished athleticism, enough for Lakers coach Byron Scott to believe Bryant will average 20-something points per game. Yet, to what degree will that be enough in ensuring Bryant stays an elite player?

Even though Bryant has had a full 10 months thus far to recover from a knee injury, how much time of on-court play will he need to shed off any rust? Though Bryant has other tools in his offensive repertoire, how much will any diminished athleticism reduce his threat against a defender? Even if he has taken his time healing his left Achilles and left knee and traveled to Germany for another innovative procedure, how much more vulnerable will Bryant become in his 36-year-old body further breaking down? To make things more complicated, how will this all play out through a grinding 82-game NBA season?

No one truly knows the answer. Hence, why Bryant’s comeback season will remain compelling to watch.
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Byron Scott photo gallery

"New Lakers head coach Byron Scott at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)"

“New Lakers head coach Byron Scott at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)”

You read about Lakers coach Byron Scott preaching about wanting to win an NBA championship even if hefty challenges await. You read about Scott stressing he will stay firm in limiting Kobe Bryant’s minutes, both to maximize his productivity and ensure long-term health. You read about Scott’s tentative starting lineup that currently favors the Lakers’ veteran players. You read about Scott’s revelation that Xavier Henry might be limited during training camp because of his left wrist and right knee have not fully healed since having surgery four months ago. You read about Scott nearly finalizing the rest of his coaching staff.

But pictures always tell a 1,000 words. And in the case of LANG’s photo gallery of Scott’s exclusive interview at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, plenty of images tell various stories.

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Lakers’ Byron Scott preaching NBA championship despite challenges

Lakers’ Byron Scott believes he can hold firm on limiting Kobe Bryant’s minutes

Lakers’ Byron Scott tentatively penciling in veterans as starters

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Lakers’ Byron Scott tentatively penciling in veterans as starters

"Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

Amid the shrieking whistles, swishing nets and perhaps profanity-laced trashtalk, another sound might emerge that provides the soundtrack to capture the beginning of Lakers’ training camp.

Players puking in trash cans.

To anticipate that possibility, Lakers coach Byron Scott will place four trash bins on each corner of the court for a simple reason. “I don’t want guys throwing up on my floor,” Scott said. He reported four undisclosed players needed to hunch over during his stints with the New Jersey Nets (2000-2004), New Orleans Hornets (2004-09) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2013), using a series of demanding conditioning and defensive oriented drills to expose immediately any of his players’ weaknesses.

“The first day is going to be tough,” Scott said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper. “I want to see which guys are ready and prepared, who’s in shape and who’s not. I’ll find out on the first day.”

Yet, before the Lakers even reach that point three weeks from now, Scott already has a tentative depth chart that currently favors the team’s veterans. Kobe Bryant is an obvious no-brainer, his Hall of Fame credentials vastly outweighing playing only six games last season because of overlapping left Achilles and left knee injuries. Scott reported favoring Steve Nash over Jeremy Lin at point guard, Carlos Boozer over Julius Randle at power forward and Jordan Hill over Robert Sacre at center, a product Scott feeling currently more comfortable with experienced veterans over young, developing players.

“That’s how I look at it right now,” Scott said. “But when the ball is thrown up September 30th, if the next guy can beat the guy in front of them, so be it.”

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Lakers’ Byron Scott believes he can hold firm on limiting Kobe Bryant’s minutes


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The smile widened as Byron Scott talked about Kobe Bryant. Scott’s eyes lit up as he recalled mentoring Bryant his rookie year during the 1996-97 season, sensing then that Bryant was already “something special” with his strongly developed game, unmatched work ethic and inquisitive curiosity about NBA history. Scott gushed about Bryant organizing informal workouts this summer with a handful of teammates.

Underneath all of those positive vibes revealed Scott’s unrelenting optimism on how Bryant will actually perform in the 2013-14 season. Scott chuckled at all the doubt surrounding Bryant, who lasted only six games last season because of overlapping left Achilles and left ankle injuries.

“I see a guy who’s going to average 20 something points a game, will have a great year and have a lot of people eating crow,” Scott said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper. “I’m glad people are saying [otherwise]. Keep adding it. It motivates him that much more. It makes my job easier.”

Yet, Scott’s job as the Lakers coach will hardly be easy. He will oversee a team that finished last season with the worst record in L.A. franchise history. Scott will have to bolster a defense that 29th in points allowed (109.2), 24th in defensive field goal percentage (46.8) and 30th in fast-break points allowed (16.7). And Scott will also have to put his strong relationship with Bryant to good use, finding the right balance in leaning on Bryant’s expertise and skillset without overly taxing his 36-year-old body.

Scott reported Bryant as fully healthy from his left knee injury and looked impressed with his offseason workouts. Yet, Scott said he will have to limit Bryant. He will probably sit out in the second practice of the three two-a-day sessions Scott tentatively has scheduled once training camp begins in three weeks. Bryant will likely skip select regular-season practices so he can receive additional rest and treatment. Scott also conceded the possibility that Bryant will either miss the second night of back-to-back games, or face reduced minutes the first game so he can play the following night.

“The key is our communication,” Scott said. “Kobe knows me pretty well and I know him pretty well. I know how stubborn he is. He knows how stubborn I am. There’s going to be times we’re butting heads. But it’s all because we want to win. But I also don’t want to play a guy like Kobe in game 58 just to get that win and then risk his health for game 82 when we have a chance to go into the playoffs. I have to be real smart that I stick to my guns as far as minutes are concerned even if it costs us a game or two.”
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Jeremy Lin pretends to pose as a wax figure

Fans eagerly sat or stood by what they considered Jeremy Lin’s wax figure at the Madame Tussauds in San Francisco, posing for pictures to make it appear they actually rubbed elbows with the Lakers’ newly acquired point guard.

Those fans soon realized they actually were. Lin either moved or spoke, scaring, surprising and amusing fans who fell for his still movements that suggested he was the wax figure.

Question marks remain on whether Lin can restore “Linsanity” to the Lakers, or at least become a pretty consistent back-up or starter to complement a possibly ailing Steve Nash. But Lin has made it abundantly clear he loves to pull pranks on people. Lin recorded a dunk cam that showed up posterizing on random fans and his mom. Lin surprised his mother on her birthday by drenching her with cake. And his latest prank where he pretended to pose as his wax figure even surprised other family members.

RELATED:

Despite challenges, Lakers’ Byron Scott preaching NBA championship


Jeremy Lin suggests he won’t bring ‘Linsanity’ to Los Angeles Lakers


Kobe Bryant content with Los Angeles Lakers’ efforts to improve

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Byron Scott says Xavier Henry not fully recovered from injuries

"Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

The Lakers have yet to play a game, but they are still fielding less than a fully healthy roster.

In a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper, Lakers coach Byron Scott said forward Xavier Henry “might be limited in training camp” because of a surgically repaired left wrist and right knee that have not fully healed.

“I haven’t seen him do much on the court,” Scott said. “It’s going to be close on if he’s ready for camp.”
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Byron Scott’s staff to include son, Thomas, Larry Lewis, Paul Pressey

Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Lakers head coach Byron Scott talks about the upcoming NBA season at the Lakers training faciltiy in El Segundo, CA on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)

Nearly three weeks await before the Lakers begin training camp, leaving Byron Scott not much time to put the finishing touches on finalizing his coaching staff.

In a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, Scott said he has added his son, Thomas, Larry Lewis and Paul Pressey to his staff that already included Jim Eyen and Mark Madsen.

Thomas and Lewis will serve as the assistant/player development coaches, while Eyen, Pressey and Madsen will have an elevated role as assistants. Scott did not specify which coach was considered his lead assistant.

“I’ll be the lead,” Scott said, laughing.

Scott also confirmed an ESPN report that suggested he may hire Igor Kokoskov, who has been an assistant coach with the Serbian national team as well as with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2013-14), Phoenix Suns (2008-13) Detroit Pistons (2003-08) and Clippers (2000-03).

“I’ve talked to a couple of guys, one in particular that is from overseas,” Scott said. “That is not definitive. But I have met with him.”
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Nick Young plays pickup basketball in New York City

The step back jumper and Nick Young’s acrobatic celebration afterwards looked familiar. The setting and circumstances in which “Swaggy P” provided more entertainment did not.

After providing doses of feel-good moments in the Lakers’ otherwise disastrous season with prolific scoring and an infectious personality, Young carried those qualities over to New York City in a pick-up basketball game. As shown above on his Instagram account, Young still wore street clothes in what he said involved an impromptu appearance.

“Lol surprise some lil hoopers while driving thru these NY streets,” Young wrote. “Decided to stop and join they 3 on 3 … I had to swag on them tho.”


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Robert Horry most impressed with Lakers’ 2001 championship team


How should Lakers handle roles for Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin?

How will Ryan Kelly fit under Byron Scott’s system?

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Robert Horry most impressed with Lakers’ 2001 championship team

For a player has won more championships than Kobe Bryant and every member of the Showtime Lakers, Robert Horry can be fairly choosy on which NBA title team he considers the most impressive.

Does Horry most marvel at the Lakers’ winning their third consecutive championship in 2002 partly because of his game winner in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings? Or does Horry mostly relish the Rockets’ 1995 championship team for repeating despite entering the playoffs as only a sixth seed?

Apparently neither. Among his seven NBA championships, Horry zeroed in on the Lakers’ 2001 championship squad that went 15-1 during the postseason. Then, the Lakers’ lone loss happened in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“That will never be accomplished again,” Horry said in a recent interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet, where he serves as a studio analyst. You shoul dhave looked at us after we lost our first game in Philly. We were so disappointed that we couldn’t sweep everyone in the playoffs.

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