With the season Steve Nash is having, he deserves more than he’s getting from the Phoenix Suns organization.
Still operating in his classic style, Nash is a living legend. One of the greatest point guards of all time, Nash is now 38 and driving the Suns into the playoffs with his MVP-caliber play.
As the trade deadline passed, Nash and the rest of the Suns players were left with the knowledge that this was the roster they had to work with to get to the playoffs and beyond.
Nash, ever the professional, took the challenge and the Suns have since gone 12-7. The Suns are now 32-29 after starting the year 12-19 and have put themselves in playoff position.
“Kid Canada” was awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons, and six seasons since hoisting the Maurice Podoloff Trophy he is still producing at nearly the same pace.
Though Nash’s 12.6 points per game is his lowest average since the 1999-2000 season, he is shooting a career-best .535 from the field, leading all guards in the category.
Still dependable for 10+ assists per night, and effective 50-40-90 shooting percentages from the field, three-point range, and free-throw line respectively, Nash hasn’t missed a beat in his 16th season in the league.
Though Rajon Rondo leads the NBA in assists per game with 11.6 to Nash’s 10.9, 44.4% of Nash’s possessions end in assists, higher than Rondo’s 41.8%. Nash is second in the NBA in both categories.
Dig a little deeper and you discover that Nash is shooting 100% from the free-throw line in clutch situations (the game within five points in overtime or with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter), and the Suns are -11.4 points when Nash isn’t on the floor and +5.4 points when he is, for a net gain of +16.9, third best in the NBA.
The numbers help explain Nash’s production, but can’t fully capture what he brings to the Phoenix Suns organization.
Marcin Gortat has scored 15.8 points per game on .566 shooting, a product of Nash finding him in the right places on the court and gaining a starter’s role after backing up Dwight Howard in Orlando.
Gortat averaged just 3.6 points per game in his last season backing up Howard. He is one of many players to benefit from Nash’s court awareness and appreciates the opportunity the Suns and Nash gave him.
“One day I’m going to write a book,” Gortat told Sportsnet, “And a huge chapter in that book is going to be playing with Steve.”
While Nash is an elite offensive player, defensively he would seem to be lacking. Younger, faster point guards are coming into the NBA every year.
The PG position is currently the deepest position in the NBA featuring young stars like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, and many more.
Still, Nash was an all-star this year, by far the oldest, and only four of the aforementioned floor generals will be playing in the playoffs. They could all learn a few things about leadership and pass-first point guard skills from the legend.
After Suns’ management didn’t pursue Boris Diaw when Charlotte released him, Nash finally vented some of his frustrations he has held so tightly to his chest by discussing the Heat and his impending free agency.
“I would listen,” Nash said to Dan Patrick of potential offers from Miami this offseason. “He [James] is phenomenal. I love what they’re doing there. A lot of people don’t like them because they put all that talent there, but they’re professional, they play hard, they play together. Their coaching staff has done a great job, so I have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
Wish Nash’s professional approach to each game, his ability to find effective shots for himself and his teammates, clutch play, and ability to run a team’s offense, Nash would likely be the final piece the Heat need in their championship quest.
Until then, Nash will continue to do what he does best and focus on the task at hand – carry the setting Suns into the playoffs one last time.
(Nash image from NBA.com)