Gilbert's Arena

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Why does the Sports Guy hate Steve Nash?

So I just read the Sports Guy's new NBA column, and I think my head is about to explode. How can he make ridiculous statements like this and just act like everyone should know they are fact:

"We just spent three weeks arguing about the 2006 MVP Award, which was the perfect vehicle to separate two groups of people: Those Who Understand Basketball, and Those Who Need To Pull Their Heads Out Of Their Butts. See, LeBron and Kobe were the only two acceptable candidates; they meant more to their teams than anyone else and submitted two otherworldly statistical seasons."

Those who understand basketball know that the Suns would be awful without Nash! Those who understand basketball know that Nash meant just as much to his team, if not more, as Kobe and Lebron did to theirs. Just because he doesn’t score like Kobe and Lebron, he’s not as valuable? Just because he didn't average 30 points per game, he didn't submit an "otherworldly statistical season"? 19 points, 10.5 assists, 51% shooting, 92% free-throw shooting, and a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio is pretty unreal in it's own right.

From a scoring standpoint, 51% shooting from Nash is infinitely more impressive than someone like Tony Parker’s FG% when you look at the shots Nash takes. Parker never shoots 3’s, and he enjoys a similar effect with Tim Duncan to the one Dwyane Wade enjoys with Shaq. When you have a post-presence like that, you can’t double team on the perimeter, and its hard for a post defender (typically the team's best shot blocker) to rotate off Shaq/Duncan, so somebody has to come from farther away to stop penetration. Combine that with exceptional quickness in a guard, and nobody can keep Parker/Wade from getting to the hole for easy buckets. Meanwhile, it’s Nash who makes himself impossible to double-team. You never know what he's going to do with the ball, and he does it completely under control while playing at an unbelievably fast pace. For example, take a look at John Hollinger's "True Shooting %" statistic, which factors in the points created with each shot attempt (via 2-pointers, 3-pointers, or FTs), and guess who jumps to #1 in the league, and by a large margin? Steve Nash. His true shooting percentage is 63%. The next highest is Eddy Curry at 60%. Tony Parker is 19th at 58%. And FYI, Lebron is 36th and Kobe is 44th.

What about assists? Hollinger's "Assist Ratio" is the percentage of a player's possessions that end in an assist. Nash is 2nd in the league, behind only Eric Snow. But, do you know how far down you have to go on that list until you find a player who also averaged as many points per game as Nash did? Joe Johnson all the way down at # 41. So Nash this year was an unparalleled statistical combination of shooting/scoring ability and the ability to create points for his teammates? That's not statistically otherworldly?

Furthermore, the Sports Guy goes on to make several ridiculous arguments against Nash. First of all, he says that the only reason to vote for Nash is that it's fun to vote for a little white guy with floppy hair. So everyone who votes for Nash is a racist??? Secondly, he says that Nash struggles to take over in close games. That's ridiculous! Nash, much like Lebron, doesn't have to take over the game by scoring HIMSELF. It doesn't matter who scores, as long as the basket is made. Plus, that's the exact same argument that's been leveled against Lebron all season, a guy who the Sports Guy claims is clearly a better candidate than Nash. Not to mention the fact that I've seen Nash take over games by scoring quite a few times. He only does it when he has to, but the guy can flat out fill it up when he wants to. He's an absurdly accurate shooter, and he’s such a creative dribbler he can get off his shot whenever he really wants it. Finally, the Sports Guy makes an argument he's made several times, that Jason Kidd never won an MVP so neither should Nash. Well guess what, I think Jason Kidd was robbed by Tim Duncan a few years ago. Kidd absolutely carried those Nets teams to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, and he was completely deserving of the MVP Award during that time. You can't hold Duncan beating out Kidd over Nash's head, they're totally unrelated. The Sports Guy also throws in Payton, Isiah, Stockton, and even Mark Price, but that's ludicrous. Unlike Kidd and Nash, none of those guys was ever considered the clear-cut top point guard in the game.

In the end, the Sports Guy just proves that HE is the one who doesn't understand basketball. The reason the Suns are losing this series to the Lakers has little to do with Kobe vs. Nash as an individual match-up, which is what the Sports Guy seems to want you to believe. Rather, it has everything to do with the fact that Nash’s teammates are choking like dogs. Once again, Shawn Marion is folding like a freaking lawn chair in the playoffs, and the trio of Barbosa/Jones/House has been utterly AWOL, forcing Nash to do too much on his own to try and make up for it (note his increased scoring in the playoffs of 22 pts/gm). If Nash had Stoudemire to take over the scoring load, this would be a different situation. Meanwhile, Kobe’s teammates have really stepped up, the keys being Lamar Odom and Luke Walton. Early in the season, Odom was in the Scottie Pippen/initiator role in the triangle, and he really struggled. Now its Walton, and he’s perfect for it. He’s such a great distributor, he’s even getting the offensively challenged Kwame involved. The whole team is involved in the offense and now even Kobe is buying into it (Phil Jackson is an unbelievable coach). Plus, with Odom now playing closer to the rim as more of a finisher, he's averaging 21 pts and 12 boards and shooting 51% in the playoffs. And none of this takes into account the fact that Phoenix is shooting 43.5% from the field, a 4% dip from their regular season performance. The Sports Guy too often focuses on individual offense and individual match-ups when he analyzes NBA team match-ups. It’s not tennis Bill, it’s a freaking team sport!

(Tomorrow, it's back to focusing on the Zards in preparation for Game 5. I promise!)


  • uh...substitute "Gil" for "Nash" and we're in business

    By Anonymous Unsilent Majority, at 4:14 PM  

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