Meet Steve Nash. Nash is a 6-3 point guard who has played his eight seasons with Phoenix Suns. A 38-year-old, 16-year NBA veteran, Nash has stated that he is looking for a three-year deal with his next contract, which would make Nash 41 by the completion of the deal.
That word remarkable is not unfamiliar to Nash; it defines his career. After being drafted to Phoenix, Nash was behind Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson on the Suns point guard depth chart, and thus playing time was sparse. It wasn’t until joining the Dallas Mavericks, and being given a chance to start, that Nash’s career really took off.Nash flourished in Dallas, becoming an All-Star. His pairing with Dirk Nowitzki looked like it would lead Dallas through the decade, however, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thought differently.
This spurn turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to Nash as he signed his next with the Phoenix Suns and head coach Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni’s open spread offense predicated on the fast break and pick-and-roll suited Nash’s skills perfectly. D’Antoni handed the offense over to Nash and the results came in abundance; Nash captured the league’s MVP award two seasons in a row and the Suns became one of the most entertaining and successful teams in the Western Conference.
Still capable of being an NBA starter, Nash’s productivity took a noticeable dip this season. He saw statistical drops in points per game, assists per game and minutes per game, yet he recorded his highest field goal percentage since 2006. The dip in his numbers could have been the result of many factors, but despite Nash’s harsh resistance, it seems his age is finally beginning to catch up with him, if only slightly.
Nash’s strength still resides with his ability as the ball-handler in the pick and roll. Despite having enough tape of Nash in pnr’s to fill the empty Barclay’s Center, teams are still helpless in defending it. In this setting Nash relies more on craft and guile than speed and strength, but still remains elusive. He’s made a career out of making careers of his roll man partner; Marcin Gortat is just the latest example of this. Nash attacks a pick and roll with surgeon like precision, slowly and methodically reading the defense all the while probing with his dribble.
Still, even as the rest of his game may dwindle with age, Nash remains a deadly shooter as evidenced by his numbers from last year: 53% FG%, 39% 3P%, 89% FT%, 62.5% TS%).
Nash has the reputation of a poor defender, which when left on the ball vs. a superior athlete is mostly true. However, despite lacking the foot speed to stay in front of his water bug counterparts, Nash is able to be a passable defender by playing excellent team defense. He uses positioning and sound fundamentals as his weapons now.
There is the intangible effect that Nash brings to the game. By all accounts, he is a fantastic teammate and one of the most respected players in the league. His unselfish style of play permeates itself throughout the rest of the troops, leading to an attractive style of play and one where everyone’s level of play rises. Imagine for a moment what that type of effect could have on MarShon Brooks.
The one question mark would be how Nash’s body would hold up once removed from the voodoo powers of the Phoenix Suns training staff. Nash keeps himself in impeccable physical shape and has done much to give himself advantages including dieting and sleep habits, but you can’t help to wonder how things could have been different another team’s staff had their hands on him.