With the Los Angeles Lakers' recent surge up the standings, it is clear that Steve Nash has played an integral role as the X-Factor in this resurgence.
Although it is obvious that Kobe Bryant continues to be the best and most important player on the roster, Nash has settled in nicely to his role as a supplementary facilitator and spot-up shooter.
In his last 10 games, Nash is averaging 12.2 points on 47.9 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range.
While his less than six assists per game during that span isn't what the Lakers expected from the talented distributor, it is important to note that he is racking up that many assists without being the primary facilitator in the offense.
Although the ball has always gone through Bryant's hands no matter what his mentality was regarding his offensive focus, it is clear that he has found a good balance in terms of facilitating and scoring when need be.
With averages of 26.3 points and 7.3 assists per game on 51.6 percent shooting from the floor, his efficiency scoring the ball makes him an even more dangerous passer.
Thus, Nash's reduction in assists doesn't necessary equate to some sort of ineffectiveness.
Nash is deferring to Bryant, who is playing the best basketball he has played in recent years. Furthermore, both players are hitting their shots at a very efficient percentage and are working well together.
Furthermore, now that Bryant has taken the onus of the responsibility of facilitating the basketball, this allows Nash to alleviate some of the scoring load off of Bryant's shoulders.
While Bryant was initially advised to become a full-time facilitator despite his mentality as a full-time scorer, Nash's ability to hit the open shot and his proven resume as an extraordinary passer has allowed both players to find a balance between their scoring and their passing.
With both players making smart choices in regards to when to shoot, when to pass and when to defer to the other, this has opened the game up to their teammates as well.
Recall how out of place Bryant looked when D'Antoni tried to force the pick-and-roll game between Nash and Howard.
Allowing Bryant to be the conduit of the offense that has tweaked his game into a more LeBron James-esque balance and has allowed a more natural flow to the offense that has allowed players like Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison to find their respective niches.
While players like Jamison and Clark are essential in providing support for Bryant, Nash and Dwight Howard, it is really Nash's supplementary style that changes the dynamic of the Lakers.
Without Nash facilitating Bryant during his scoring binges and being a reliable outside shooter for Bryant to facilitate to, Bryant's tendency is to either dominate the ball on offense or over facilitate.
It is the balance Nash brings that ultimately results in Bryant's balance. That is the reason Nash is the X-Factor for the Lakers and their playoff hopes.
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