Name: Steve Nash
Season: 19th season (3rd with Lakers)
Role: Chief offensive orchestrator, playmaker, and one of the best shooters of all time.
The good: As mentioned above, not only is Nash a maestro of the pick-and-roll, he is also a shooting savant. The former two-time MVP is one of only two players (along with Larry Bird) with multiple entries into the 50-40-90 club (50% FGs, 40% 3pts, 90% FTs). He accomplished the feat four times in his career, doubling Bird's career total. The threat of his shooting, combined with his brilliant passing, can make Nash one of the most unstoppable forces in the NBA on the offensive end of the floor.
The bad: Everything I just said about his offensive abilities? Reverse that and you are only slightly overstating how much he struggles on the defensive end of the floor. With current hand checking rules, it is almost impossible to adequately defend the NBA's new breed of water bug point guards, but Nash struggles more than most. In addition to this lack of lateral quickness, he has also proven to be a non-stop revolving door of maladies over his two seasons with the Lakers.
Lakers season preview
Lakers season preview
The could-be: In a perfect world, Nash is able to have his first healthy season as a Laker and puts up per 36-minutes numbers similar to his Phoenix days in limited minutes as a token starter, all while mentoring Jeremy Lin and/or Jordan Clarkson. On defense, Nash is less hurtful when given a consistent, clear role in the team system under new head coach Byron Scott.
The hope-not: That Nash's fateful collision with Damian Lillard two seasons ago, combined with the natural aging process and the lack of Phoenix's training staff of warlocks, led to a cycle of injuries that simply cannot be overcome. Captain Canada spends most, if not the entirety, of the year on the bench as the league's highest paid unofficial assistant coach.
The likely: As almost always when dealing with best and worst case scenarios, somewhere in the middle. Given the vibes from Gary Vitti about Nash finally having his health under control, it is not impossible to imagine the Vancouver product playing in around half of the Lakers games, with his shooting providing much needed space for Kobe, Randle, et al. to get shots out of the post. All of this, while being a helpful teacher on the bench, a good cop to Kobe Bryant's bad one in the locker room, and overall helping maintain team chemistry during what will be either a surprising playoff run, or more likely a second straight lottery trip.
What it means: A semi-productive year from Nash such as the scenario posed above could either help the Lakers in the goal of a lower rung playoff seed, or hurt them by making them just good enough to ensure that their pick falls outside of its protections, thus surrendering it to Phoenix in one final harm from the Nash trade as he heads into retirement.