Two games into the 2012-13 NBA season, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash suffered a fracture in his fibula that sidelined him until Dec. 22. He missed 24 games during and was never quite the same. He struggled to be the same Steve Nash we saw in Phoenix where he had the best training staff in the NBA monitoring his body in a proactive way to know how to adjust what he did on a day-by-day basis.
Nash played in just 50 games last season with the Lakers and had his lowest assists per game (6.7) and assist rate (32.8 percent) since the 1999-2000 season. He wasn't the playmaker the Lakers thought they were acquiring and he got abused both strategically and physically on defense. In order to get Nash back to the player they thought they were acquiring, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti says they need to figure out the best way to save his body and utilize his minutes. Via Lakers.com:
Yes, he's working with his longtime therapist in Vancouver and is getting better every day. Steve did everything we asked him to do all season, but as I mentioned, the fibular fracture along with the neurological component just disrupted his kinetic chain and he started compensating, which creates dysfunction. Part of what has made him great is his ability to know his body and compensate for movements on the court. But getting hurt so early and being out so long kept him from getting to that point, as he was chasing young guys like Ty Lawson and Russell Westbrook around the court. Teams were running him around picks, smashing him into the floor -- he really got beat up last year.
But I think he's going to come back in great shape, and then it's all about how he's used. You don't want to beat him up in practice. Save it for the game, figure out the appropriate minutes that put him in a successful situation. The example I use is Robert Horry, where we played him a lot of minutes, and it was difficult for him to recover and be productive at his age. But he goes to San Antonio, plays 18 minutes a game, and the guy was an unbelievable force off the bench for them. I think if we figure out how best to use Steve, he can be the same way.
Assuming he can avoid injury, the Lakers shouldn't need to use Nash much in full practices once the season starts. You can trust him to stay in shape on his own with the way he works out and monitors his own nutrition. And then you're just trying to keep him into game shape while keeping him away from physical play unless it's in actual games. It's finding a balance in that which made him so effective in Phoenix.
If the Lakers can keep that balance and manage to keep Mike D'Antoni and his system in place past the first five games of next season, the Lakers might be able to find more stability for both Nash and their team play on the court.