Most Important PG?

LAKERS
CLIPPERS

They need Nash's creativity

Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPN.com
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Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA right now. Pound-for-pound, all-around, he's the best.

But man, have you seen Eric Bledsoe recently? There's a reason the Clippers fought so hard to keep the young point guard out of the trade that brought Paul to Los Angeles. He's a star in the making. And he's only going to get there faster with Paul tutoring him. Yes, the Clippers would lose a lot if they were without Paul for any length of time. But with Bledsoe in the fold, I think they'd weather the storm better than the Lakers would if Steve Nash missed any significant time.

It feels strange to say that a team that's gone decades without an elite playmaker at the point guard position could come to need Nash so quickly, but there's a reason Kobe Bryant was so eager to recruit Nash to the Lakers side this summer. He needs him. Bryant's always been a better finisher than a creator. And as he ages, creating takes an even bigger toll on his body. Dwight Howard is a force inside, but he doesn't yet have the offensive skill set to create his own shot out of the low post with ease. All that is Nash's job for the next few years -- and it's a big one.

If anything would happen to him, the Lakers have only Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Darius Morris to fill in. Blake and Duhon are best suited to be backups, while Morris is still a developing young player.

I'd hate to see either team lose either player for any length of time. But the Clippers are better positioned to make do without their playmaker than the Lakers.

Paul makes them contenders

Markazi By Arash Markazi
ESPN.com
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As good as Steve Nash is, and he's still pretty darn good, the Lakers have been just fine without an elite point guard since 2000. They've won five championships since then, with Ron Harper and his bum knees and Derek Fisher and his shaky shooting. In fact, the Lakers' most disappointing season was probably when they brought in Gary Payton to play point guard for the 2003. As long as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace are healthy, this is still an elite team even if Steve Blake had to fill in.

That simply isn't the case with the Clippers. They became instant contenders the second they traded for Chris Paul and would fall from that category if they lost Paul for a significant amount of time.

Paul is not only the best point guard in basketball, he's one of the top-five players in the game. Statistically, he was the best player in the NBA last season in points and assists in the last five minutes of games within five points. He's not only the Clippers' engine, he's the tires and steering wheel, as well. Eric Bledsoe will be a solid spark plug off the bench for the Clippers, but he's not an elite, playoff point guard. Not yet, anyway.

The biggest reason the culture of the Clippers has changed and Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill have decided to finish their careers with the Clippers is because of Paul. He has made the Clippers a destination franchise and a legitimate championship contender. No disrespect to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who were teammates when the Clippers missed out on the playoffs before Paul's arrival, but this team would be an afterthought if Paul were not in Los Angeles.

The reason the Clippers are where they are right now begins and ends with Paul and his ability to run this team.