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Is Steve Nash the best offensive player of his generation?

Apr 12, 2011, 6:04 PM EDT

Steve Nash

Because of the way Steve Nash plays, it’s hard to think of him as one of the greatest offensive players of all time. He doesn’t go off for 50-point outbursts, and he doesn’t just grab the ball in isolation and score time and time again. He needs good teammates to pass to in order to be effective. He needs plenty of room to work in pick-and-roll situations, and his teams are generally better in the full-court than they are in the half-court. When we think of great offensive players, our minds go to Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or a prime Shaquille O’Neal before they go to Nash.

Still, it’s hard to overlook what NBA.com’s John Schuhmann pointed out today: This will be the first season since the 2001-02 season where Steve Nash’s team did not finish first in offensive efficiency. That’s an absolutely incredible accomplishment, and Nash’s Suns are still incredibly good on offense when Nash is on the floor. Nash’s defense has never been good, he’s been blessed with some amazing offensive teammates, and he hasn’t yet won the big one, but Nash’s ability to lead absolutely brilliant offenses year after year after year is something that should be appreciated and remembered long after he retires.

It’s easy to talk about what Steve Nash isn’t and wasn’t as a player. But as a pure offensive talent and facilitator, Nash has had few peers.

  1. ahemahem - Apr 12, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    O, c’mon!

    Nash was never even as good as Jason Kidd, who took his team to the Finals twice, something Nash could not do, even with the questionable MVP award.

    • borderline1988 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:34 PM

      O, c’mon ahemahem!

      The Nets made the finals in the Eastern conference at a time when the East was so bad that my own Raptors were considered a legitimate co-favourite to make it. My high school team probably could have made the Eastern finals in those years.

      In fact, if I remember correctly, during the 2002/03 season, none of the Eastern conference playoff teams, with their regular season record, would have finished higher than 8th in the Western conference. The Nets, led by Jason Kidd, were destroyed by the Lakers in 4 games in the NBA finals. The Nets were an awful team by any NBA finals standards.

      Now, let me pose you a question: do you actually think that a mid-2000’s Suns team placed in the 2002 or 2003 Eastern Conference wouldn’t have steamrolled to the finals? They probably would have swept 3 rounds. Probably would have destroyed the Nets.

      • borderline1988 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:43 PM

        I’m not denying that you’re right about Nash. But circumstances and luck of the draw have a lot more to do with winning than any single player does.

        People place to much emphasis on winning championships or making it to the finals. Kobe happens to be on what is undeniably the most talented team in the NBA. Jason Kidd, who I would admit was also an incredible player, never was surrounded by that type of talent and therefore never had a chance to win an NBA championship. Yet, luck was on his side in another sense, because during his prime, he played in a totally inept conference with no elite teams.

        Nash, on the other hand, led some incredible teams. However, those teams had to deal with the toughest and most brutal Western Conferences in NBA history. And let’s not forget Tim Donaghy….Who knows how far the Suns go if that guy was actually on the Suns’ side, rather than the Spurs?

        Anyways, if you actually think that the Suns, in their prime, were inferior to the Nets, you’ve got to be crazy!

      • ahemahem - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:56 PM

        One could just as easily question Nash’s credentials when it took 7 playoff games to get past a starting 5 of Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Odom, Luke Walton, and Kobe Bryant–another way of saying Kobe against the Suns. Really, who did the Suns beat that year? The next round they struggled to beat the CLIPPERS.

        Arguably, that year Kobe, Brand, or Dirk (or Shaq) was just as qualified as Nash for MVP, as they had less ammo.

        Nash has NEVER been to a Finals, no matter the year, or the strength of opposition.

    • borderline1988 - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:12 PM

      Lol I would still take that Lakers team to win the 2002 Eastern Conference championship.

      Still, you have a good point. Nash was never able to make it to the Finals in any year.
      But dude, Jason Kidd and the 2002 and 2003 Nets?
      You haven’t answered my question: Do you actually think that, say, the 2006 Suns (with a 61-21 record in a brutal Western Conference) would have had any trouble making the Finals in the 2002 Eastern Conference?

      • ahemahem - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:18 PM

        I think the Suns were a better team, but I don’t know if they really knew how to win big games. Like Dallas lost to Golden State in the playoffs, I would not put it past the Suns to, as well, lose to inferior teams. As an offensive force, one could more easily argue for Dirk, as his teams, arguably less talented than the Suns, progressed to the Finals.

        One might call Kidd the best PG post-Magic, because at least Stockton had Malone.

  2. LPad - Apr 12, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    It’s Nash’s first season without Amare, which explains the efficiency drop. Nash is a hall-of-fame point guard, but he is not the best offensive player of his generation and if his teams are better in half court situations why do they struggle in the playoffs when more possessions occur in the half court?

    • jstrizzle - Apr 12, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      Don’t forget that Amar’e missed almost all of one season recovering from a surgery and they still finished first then. I agree though. Best offensive player? Probably not. Best offensive team facilitator? Then yes I would agree. I think that will be proven when Nash is not with the Suns and we see the true talent on their roster.

  3. mogogo1 - Apr 12, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Where’d this guy get the mistaken impression that Nash, Kobe and Shaq are in the same “generation” of players as LeBron? Kobe and Nash had been in the league 6 years by the time LeBron played a game and Shaq had been around for a decade. LeBron is the next generation after them, just as clearly as Jordan was in the generation that preceded them. If he wants to compare Nash to other players in his generation, then at least figure out who qualifies.

  4. danielcp0303 - Apr 12, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    No

  5. chicagofan - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Are you kidding? Nash was an excellent point guard but hardly qualifies as best offensive player of any generation. You would think that he and Phoenix would have come closer to a ring if that was true.You will win most offensive writer of your generation if you keep making lame postulates like this one.

  6. vswho - Apr 13, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    so then maybe he’s one of if not the best PG of his generation…the best person leading a team by bringing the ball down the court. but best “offensive player” is too broad a statement. he doesn’t score enough or single handedly take over games enough on offense. i would say he’s the best offensive facilitator of his generation…but not offensive player.

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