Steve Nash is over-rated

Like fine wine, Steve Nash has only gotten better with age, seriously better. It doesn’t seem possible now, what with Nash becoming intimately familiar with the NBA MVP award in recent years, but his first four seasons out of Santa Clara University were pretty pathetic. In fact, take a close look at his career numbers, Nash was nowhere near MVP-caliber until he came back for his second run in Phoenix playing under Mike D’Antoni’s “7 seconds or less” offensive system. A system by the way, that has made solid players out of career journeymen like Raja Bell, James Jones and Boris Diaw. But we digress. In Dallas, during his best season, Nash averaged 17.9 points and 7.7 assists. Solid, but sorry, no MVP for you!

We bring all this up because we were having this conversation over the weekend. Where does Nash rank among today’s crop of point-guards? Does Nash really deserve the 2 MVP trophies he took home following the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons? In fact, where would Nash rank among the greatest points of all-time?

Steve Nash fans probably won’t like our answers.

Look we love the little guy’s heart and hustle. His offensive skills are also rather substantial, with a silky smooth jumper, mesmerizing passing ability and high basketball IQ. And to top it off, Nash is a model citizen and all-around good guy off the court. In fact, if every NBA player had his personality, principles and poise, the NBA would be a whole lot more popular with casual fans.

But, on the flip side, Nash is also one of the worst defensive point-guards in the league, he can’t rebound to save the world and, plain and simple, owes a huge chunk of his success in recent years to the D’Antoni system. In fact, to those that watch the NBA closely it is pretty clear that the only reason Steve Nash won the MVP award during the 2005-2006 season, ahead of more deserving candidates like Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki for example, is because the 125 sportswriters and broadcasters that vote for the NBA MVP award are simply fonder of Nash. That’s it, given a close MVP race, the only reason Nash took home the hardware was because he’s the most likeable. Didn’t know we were back in high school, but whatever.

So, given that analysis, and considering the fact that Steve Nash has never won an NBA championship, let’s get back to those pressing questions. Where does Nash rank, among the point-guards both today and all-time? Well, looking at his current peers, the other point guards in the conversation should probably be Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Baron Davis, Gilbert Arenas, Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups. If we had to rate this group, considering current skills, ability to play under a variety of systems, and future potential, we’d do it thusly:
  1. Gilbert Arenas
  2. Jason Kidd
  3. Chris Paul
  4. Steve Nash
  5. Baron Davis
  6. Deron Williams
  7. Chauncey Billups
  8. Tony Parker

By our calculations, Nash is clearly in the middle of the pack among the top point-guards in the game today. What about all-time? Just for kicks, the list below is how we’d rank the top 5 point guards of all-time. Nash would probably appear somewhere near the bottom of the top 15.

  1. Magic Johnson
  2. Oscar Robertson
  3. Isiah Thomas
  4. John Stockton
  5. Bob Cousy

Then you’ve got players like the aforementioned Kidd, Kevin Johnson, Walt Frazier, Gary Payton, Pete Maravich, Nate Archibald, Dennis Johnson, et al. Take Kevin Johnson for example. The guy averaged 18 points, 9 assists and 1.5 steals a game, while shooting 49 percent from the floor for his career -- better than Nash's numbers. Or, how about Nate Archibald? He averaged 19 points, 7 assists and nearly a steal per game throughout his illustrius career. In comparison, Nash has a paltry 14 points, 7.6 assits and .8 steals per game over his career. And, Nash, unlike Archibald, and a lot of the other players on the list, is yet to win a championship.

Just because Steve Nash is the flavor of the day, particularly among sportswriters who seem to be in love with the Suns star, history, and a quick statistical analysis, shows us that he isn’t quite as prolific as some would have you believe.

Obligatory Note: On any all-time list, you can’t compare skills across eras, but gauge talent by comparing to other players in their own era, and by measuring the impact they had on their particular team. So, don’t even get started with “Jason Kidd is so much better than Bob Cousy” – arguments like that are pointless.


Anonymous said...

The MVP is based on a player's performance that particular season, not their entire career. To say that Nash was not phenominal the seasons he has won MVP is like speaking to a bunch of deaf people with blindfolds on. Who cares about career numbers, the fact is that Nash is performing as such like the greats of the past and present; different players develop at different times. That is why there is the "rookie of the year award" as well as the "most-improved player" award. Did Kobe get rookie of the year? MVP? No, he's yet to earn it in his career.

One could say that Kobe gets a lot of attention because players like T-Mac, Vince, and Melo just can't get it together in order to give him any competition as SGs. Nash is the best point-guard in the game RIGHT NOW, and he does his job (move the ball, find the open man, and shoot when open). Sure, Jason Kidd gets more rebounds, but the guy can't shoot, especially in the 4th quarter. Lebron should have gotten MVP in the 07 season, but Nash's wins were well deserved. If he had been playing the way he is now, his entire career, he would be atop most of the all-time lists. Stockton holds the record for most games played on the same team, go figure. You can't compare Amare to Karl Malone. Defense- Stockton does hold the record in steals, but the Suns defensive problems come down mostly on their back court. If you really expect a point guard to be a stop defender, you don't know how the game works, Nash could work on his defense, but to hold that high in your argument that he is over- rated is only looking at one side of the octagon.

The League may look at Nash, as I do, as a very likable, and very honest, true to form basketball player that is easy to market, but if they were in it to win over the majority (the fans) Kobe would be MVP every year, undeservedly.

Anonymous said...

Magic was on the same team his entire career as well, and I'm sure we can all name a few players he had the luxury of hitting the floor with.