Wednesday, April 26

Nash

NBA MVP Steve NashWell, it appears Steve Nash has worked his Canadian magic on the voters once again. Reports are circulating that Nash has won the MVP for the second consecutive season, boosting hopes for runty white guards all across North America.

I thought it might be interesting to compare Nash with LeBron James, who I consider to be the league's true MVP (with Kobe and Billups right behind). Specifically, let's look at that mystery called "most valuable." Every story you read in the next few weeks will center on how Nash boosted a team without Amare to a strong record, almost as if his surrounding cast was a bunch of stiffs straight out of the NBDL. But what if LBJ's teammates are worse; doesn't he deserve some credit as well? Here's a quick look at the two rosters:

2nd-best player:
Cleveland: Ilgauskas (15.6, 7.6 reb)
Phoenix: Marion (21.8, 11.8 reb)
Clearly, Marion is the better player, as he averages nearly as many blocks as the taller Ilgauskas, while grabbing an extra 1.5 steals, fewer TOs, and more points per shot.

3rd-best player:
Cleveland: Hughes (15.5, 4.5 reb)
Phoenix: Diaw (13.3, 6.9 reb)
A tougher call here. Diaw has never played this well in his career, so Nash has to get some credit for that. But the question is: Who’s a better player? Hughes.

4th-best player:
Cleveland: Gooden (10.7, 8.4 reb)
Phoenix: Bell (14.7, 2.5 3’s per game)
Again, a tough call. Bell’s Roland Rating is +.1, Gooden’s is -.4, which is essentially a toss-up. Interestingly, Bell’s stats are virtually identical to his previous campaigns, with the exception of him chucking up way more 3’s than ever before. I’ll call this one even.

5th-best player:
Cleveland: Snow (4.8, 4.2 assists)
Phoenix: Leandro Barbosa (9.3, 3.4 reb)
I had to mix this up a bit, as Barbosa isn’t really the 5th-best player, but it would be silly to match up Snow with Tim Thomas. Still, he is statistically superior to Snow.

6th-best player:
Cleveland: Flip Murray (13.5, 2.8 assists)
Phoneix: Kurt Thomas (8.6, 7.8 reb)
Again, no way you’d ever deal Murray for Thomas, unless Murray’s nickname reminds you of Flip Wilson and you’re looking for that whole nostalgia thing.

7th-best player:
Cleveland: Donyell Marshall (9.3, 6.1 reb)
Phoenix: Tim Thomas (11, 4.9 reb)
An interesting comparison. Both were top 10 picks, both have been considered something of a disappointment in their careers, although Marshall has been a consistent contributor throughout his tenure, while Thomas has been a salary cap menace to many teams. I think the majority of NBA GMs, in a world where the cap did not exist, would take Thomas.

That’s enough of the comparisons, as no one cares whether I think Anderson Varejao is better than Eddie House. The important point is that in four of the six comparisons, the Suns’ player was better, and in only one match-up was the Cavs’ player definitely superior (Hughes).

So, the result is that LBJ’s cast is easily worse than Nash’s, Amare or no Amare. And yet, James, who led his team to 50 wins is somehow less valuable than Nash, who led his team to 54? James, who scored 1,000 more points than Nash is less valuable? James, who averaged more steals and fewer turnovers than the “ultimate point guard” is less valuable? I don’t buy it.

I’m convinced that 20 or 30 years from now, basketball geeks will look back at these two trophies, look at Nash’s stats, and utter a collective, “Huh?”

45 comments:

Zachary Geballe said...

Oh, absolutely. I said a year ago that if Nash won the MVP, it would be a shame, because up until that point every single player who'd won the MVP in basketball was a Hall of Famer (or would soon be one). Nash is nowhere near one...according to Basketball-Reference.com, heading into this season his Hall of Fame probability was 5.6%...comparably, Ray Allen is at 54.5%.

Nash is a poor man's John Stockton. His assist numbers mean little when you consider the vast amounts of points his teams have racked up over the last 4-5 years (Dallas before Phoenix was another run-and-gun team). Nash is a medicore scorer with no ability to take over a game and one of the worst defensive players in the league. He's not one of the 20 most valuable players in the league, and he certainly wasn't the most valuable this year.

But somehow, he tricked people into thinking he was the reason the Suns were good last year (when in fact it was because they played a gimicky style that only worked in the regular season, and because Amare Stoudemire was freaking ridiculous), and because no one really felt strongly about Shaq (who will now have 1 less MVP than Nash...you explain to me how that makes sense), Wade, LeBron, etc...

This year, since his stats are better, he's gotta be the MVP, even though Kobe and LeBron each carried far inferior teams to the playoffs. Man, NBA writers can sure be idiots.

jason said...

Give Nash more credit. He contributes in ways that don't always show up in statistics.

Like grittiness. How can you measure grittiness? You can't.

Or trickiness? I bet you can't measure that, huh, smart guy?

Lance Uppercut said...

It would be a travisty if the MVP actually mattered. I'm not sure how MVP voting works, but my guess is that Lebron and Kobe spilt most of the first place votes while many people might have had Nash in second. If that were the case, it's possible that Nash accrued enough 2nd place votes and a few 1st place votes to win the MVP.
I think the new definition of "intangables" should be "the things that white guys do that allow us to praise them without having to show any evidence."

Nuss said...

Here's the breakdown of first place votes (according to the East Valley Tribune in Arizona):

Nash - 30
Nowitzki - 12
James - 11
Bryant - 11
Billups - 10

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=64096

Lance Uppercut said...

That's fucking criminal. Nash got almost as many votes as the next three combined? It just goes to show that, whenever possible, people are going to vote for the guy who they could most envision themselves as. "Lets see. I'm a white sports writer, a little under six feet, about 20 pounds over weight. Who can I most identify with? Well, Kobe and Lebron are out, that's for sure. Maybe Dirk, but he's too damn tall and I still haven't gotten over WWII. Chauncey? Not with those biceps. Congrats on your second straight MVP Nash!"

ryan said...

What's the over/under on how many points Kobe lights up the Suns for tonight after hearing Nash got 3x as many votes as he did for MVP? 40 points? 50 points? Are we in Elgin/MJ territory here?

Don't get too worked up guys; after all, Anna Paquin has more Oscars than Scorcese, so it only makes sense that Nash would have more MVPs than Shaq, right?

Lance Uppercut said...

Scorcese still owes me $7.50 from Gangs of New York, not to mention the 3 hours of my life it wasted.

AK1984 said...

Well, sadly, Steve Nash's MVP victory proves that Biggie is right about the underlying ethnocentrism in sports.

Yet, that notwithstanding, Biggie is nevertheless a bigot himself.

The following is how the MVP race should have been:

MVP: Kobe Bryant
#2: LeBron James
#3: Dwyane Wade
#4: Dirk Nowitzki
#5: Chauncey Billups

Nuss said...

It's surprising how little mention Wade got this year. His team's right there, his cohort (Shaq) has been in and out with injuries, and nobody really talks about him.

In the end, as always, the guys with the rings will get to talk. Nash can have all the MVPs he wants, but he's never even made it to the finals, let alone hoist a trophy.

Walterego said...

Haven't compared the win-loss records in each conference, but 54 wins in the West is much more impressive than 50 in the lEast.

Biggie said...

1 question, has Michael Jordan, the greatest of all times, won the MVP award 2yrs in a row????

AK1984, I assume you're a white guy, and to me a white guy calling a black guy a bigot, based on the history of this planet, is like an executioner bitching because he's gonna have his head chopped off.

Now if the answer to my above query is no, then Steve Nash winning MVP 2yrs in a row is the greatest travesty in the history of the NBA.

Nuss said...

Yes, MJ won consecutive trophies. Duncan and Magic also have. MJ could have won it 10 years in a row and deserved it, but I think the voters got tired of writing his name down, and went for Barkley and the Mailman a few times, even though everyone knew Jordan was the MVP.

As to the West vs East argument, it holds water. However, Cleveland is stuck in the Central, where they get matched up with Detroit and Indiana on a regular basis, while the 2nd-best team in Phoenix' division was the Clippers. In 16 games against the Pistons, Pacers, Bucks, and Bulls, the Cavs went 11-5. In 16 games against the Clips, Lakers, Warriors, and Kings, the Suns went 10-6. No real advantage either way, there.

biggie said...

There is no way that steve nash should have as many MVP's a MJ, and there's no way he should have more than Shaq. Did Stockton ever win it, because Stockton is waaaaay better than nash. Whatever I think it's retarded to give it to steve nash 2yrs in a row.

Nuss said...

MJ has 5 total trophies, so there's no danger there (I hope). Stockton never won it, and that's a great comparison. Nash is nowhere near the player Stockton was, and Stockton never got serious consideration for the trophy.

It just doesn't make any sense at all, man.

-Q said...

Now, you can accuse me of coming down on both sides of the fence, but I don't think Nash is as bad of a player as, say, Luke Ridnour...

Two stats jump out at me that make strong cases for Nash's MVP. One is the Suns win-loss record without him (they are awful), and the other is the fact that seven players on the Suns had career years this season. SEVEN!

The MVP voting is really kind of bogus because so many different people have different definitions of the award! Some people won't give a good player his due simply because he is on a losing team. Others won't consider anyone but the stat leaders (points, assists, etc.) that particular season, regardless of thier overall contribution to his team.

Even though the definition of the award is vague, people tend to come down to two broad definitions. There are those who think of the MVP as a "league" award (i.e.. who would you choose first in your all-NBA pickup game), and those who concentrate on how valuable a praticular player is to their team (In other words, what percentage of the teams success can be attributed to just one player?)

For those definitions, I have two players:

League MVP (most talented player): Le Bron. He is far an away the player with the most skills on any team in the NBA. He is a crazy, X-Men mutant playing with mere mortals...

Team MVP: (most vauable to any single team) Nash. He more than anyone else in the league amkes his team, and all of the players on it, better. Playing with Nash is like sitting in a jam session with Miles Davis. No matter how much you suck on your instrument, he is going to make you sound pretty good.

BTW: For the second definition, Ray Allen would be a close second choice for me...

Nuss said...

By those definitions, wouldn't Sam Cassell deserve some consideration for the Team MVP award?

Moreover, if Nash was such an indispensable member of his team, why didn't the Mavericks go in the tank after he left? Instead, they went from 52 wins in his last season to 58 last year and 60 this year, hardly an indication of how Nash makes his teammates better.

Perhaps it's best to imagine it this way: You're at a park and all the NBA players are lined up to join your team for the next 5-on-5 game. Would you choose Steve Nash or LeBron James? If Nash helps make his teammates better, as everyone seems to think, wouldn't he be your first choice, since he would make your rag-tag group of friends into an elite group of warriors?

No, unless you're silly, you'd pick LeBron because he's better, and would give you a better chance of winning, and THAT'S what an MVP is.

biggie said...

"If Nash helps make his teammates better, as everyone seems to think, wouldn't he be your first choice, since he would make your rag-tag group of friends into an elite group of warriors?" LMFAO, that is classic Nuss. Hilarious.

Nuss said...

I'm sorry if I'm stepping on toes with this Nash thing; I can see why some people like him, and anyone who likes the NBA enjoys what the Suns are doing - for nothing more than the fact they have single-handedly brought back fast break basketball.

It drives me crazy, though, that people really think Nash is more valuable than LeBron, Shaq, Duncan, Wade, or Kobe when he so clearly isn't. Look at how the Lakers fell apart when Shaq left - they were decimated. The same thing would happen if Duncan left SA or if LBJ left Cleveland - and it didn't happen when Nash left Dallas. In fact, I'd say that Nowitzki is more valuable than Nash, in that the Mavericks would crumble if he left.

Anyway, you have to love the playoffs so far. That SA-Sacto game the other night was fantastic, and the Laker-Suns game was great, too. The best thing about the NBA is that superstars almost always propel great teams (sorry, KG), unlike football or baseball where the best players aren't always on display in the post-season.

5 Quick Things I Love About the NBA Playoffs:

1. TNT's coverage
2. Watching guys tense up over FTs in the dying minutes
3. Seeing a home team hit a couple of 3's to get back into the game, driving their fans nuts
4. Seeing guys like Shaq and Duncan elevate their games after cruising through the regular season
5. Big Shot Rob

-Q said...

Nuss,

It's cool, you can bust my chops anytime...

Again, it all depends on what your definition of MVP is. Sam Cassell is a good player, but I would say he would be 9th or 10th in the "helping you team" category, behind, Nowitski, Gasol, Iverson, and Billups.

Unfortunately for you (and maybe ESPN) your average park league is not the NBA. Putting LeBron with a bunch of stiffs and putting Nash with a bunch of stiffs is nowhere near a correct comparison, because those two would inevitably guard each other (that would not happen in real life)

Let me ask you this... in the "Rucker Park" definition, I wouldn't take either... not unless shaq was sitting on a park bench somewhere. Does that make him MVP?

I have also heard the "Who would you build your team around?" defnintion of MVP as well. I just think it just depends on what your definition of the term "MVP" is.

I don't think people should be focusing on anyone's race. I also don't think anyone should be talking about Nash as a "poor mans-Stockton" I think that people should instead be talking about him as the greatest true point guard SINCE Stockton. I personally think he is better than Stockton in some respects. I for one love his game (as well as LeBron's) but I think there can be a solid case made for both.

-Q

biggie said...

Q- LeBron is a better point guard than Nash. And he plays small forward/shooting guard. Magic was also a better point guard than eithr Nash or Stocton. Gary payton in is heyday was a better point than Nash. The numbers prove me right on that last point also G has been to the finals where has nash been?? Canada. Oooooooh, ay.

biggie said...

MVP’s - Maurice Podoloff Trophy
2004-05 - Steve Nash, Phoenix
2003-04 - Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
2002-03 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2001-02 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2000-01 - Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
1999-00 - Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1998-99 - Karl Malone, Utah
1997-98 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1996-97 - Karl Malone, Utah
1995-96 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1994-95 - David Robinson, San Antonio
1993-94 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
1992-93 - Charles Barkley, Phoenix
1991-92 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1990-91 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1989-90 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1988-89 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1987-88 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1986-87 - Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

The only reason Nash won, even last year, is so there'd be a white guy on this list. lol

biggie said...

Oh, Jason Kidd is a better point than Nash is also, and he was taught by GP. GP's favorite point of all time was Stockton so that should tell you something. Nash doesn't deserve the MVP.

Nuss said...

Q - you're right, I'd take Shaq, Duncan, or Yao in that situation, too, but that's only because of their height advantage, which disappears in the NBA. In my flawed analogy, I was trying to point out that in a ceteris paribus situation, four players on either team of equal value, wouldn't you take LeBron before you took Nash? Nash plays very poor defense and is nowhere near the scorer or rebounder LeBron is. His only advantage is as a passer, which is outweighed by all of the other factors.

I don't think that Nash won entirely because of his race, but you have to admit that it played at least a part in the decision.

-Q said...

I'm slowly coming around to the race thing... however, it's not like they gave the MVP to MMike Dunleavy or Austin Croshere...

biggie said...

It's not just race, like just any old white guy, because if it was why not Nowitzki?? I think it's deeper than that more like American white guy, I realize Steve Nash is Canadian but hell, he's the closest thing they've got right now. Nowitzki actually deserves the thing, if they gave it to him you wouldn't hear a peep from me. I don't understand why they'd do this though, maybe it is the theory of "who can they relate to the most".

biggie said...

Maybe nash hooked all the voters up with some BC bud.

bamz101 said...

Call me a homer, but I think it was well deserved. Of those players and how you ranked them, if the Phoenix players (outside of Marion) were not with Nash, they wouldn't be comparable to their Cleveland counterparts. If we look at how great we've perceived Diaw, Bell, Barbosa, both Thomases (esp Tim) have looked, I'd say a lot of that is due to Nash.

Hell take a look at Tim Thomas. A disappointment, then he joins Nash mid-season, and suddenly he looks like the player people thought he should be.

In the end, I think he gets the MVP because any scrub that joins the Suns tends to look like gold suddenly. I don't think its a coincidence and I don't think its something you could say about the Lakers, Cavaliers, or Mavericks.

Anonymous said...

bamz101, cover your mouth when you fart.

Nuss said...

I'll go along with you on Diaw, but Tim Thomas wasn't some scrub, he's been a good player in this league who signed a contract befitting a superstar.

Plus, Raja Bell scored just as often in Utah as he is this year - just more minutes. Besides, if Barbosa is playing better this year, then shouldn't we critize Nash for not getting this out of him last year, when he was his teammate? Plus, doesn't Barbosa only play when Nash is on the bench?

Finally, if Nash was able to raise his teammates so much, it would follow that the Mavericks' stats would have plummeted after he left, which they didn't.

I'm all for giving Nash credit. He's definitely one of the top PGs in the game, and possibly the best. But to start giving him Magic/Larry/MJ credit as some sort of hero is silly - especially since he's never led a playoff team to the finals, which is the true mark of a champion. Maybe I'm wrong and if Nash leads the Suns to the finals I'll shut up, but I'm guessing it ain't going to happen this year, or anytime soon.

bamz101 said...

Nuss, I didn't mean to imply that everyone who joined PHX is a scrub, I meant it more in the sense that regardless of who joins (good or bad, as PHX seems to be a rotating door), they are elevated by his play. That says a lot.

Kobe, for example, is a great player, but when you watch the Lakers, he doesn't elevate anyone, he's just good enough to outweigh the Kwame Brown's of the world.

I don't think giving him 2 MVP's is a question of 'elevating' him to MJ/Magic/Bird status, it speaks more to the fact that there is a lack of those sort of players in the game today- players that change their team (not just in a +/- 20 points a night sense).

spock said...

LeBron James was the logical choice.

"Tim Thomas wasn't some scrub, he's been a good player in this league."

Inaccurate.

acenab1277 said...

I'm late on this discussion but I thought I'd put in my two cents. If you look at the contenders, there is something to be said as to how competitive their division is.

Now Billups would have been a smart choice but there are too many weapons for the Pistons. Although that would have been a nice change. You have to look at LeBron as an MVP. The whole Midwest division made the playoffs. I know what the argument will be: the entire Eastern conference is weak. Maybe so, but, you also have to credit a division that puts ALL their teams into the playoffs. LBJ's in a division with the Pistons and Pacers. If the Pacers weren't so banged up this year, they would be a higher seed. Plus, the Bulls and Bucks proved to be pretty good young teams.

And, LBJ carried a team with mediocre talent and along the way made other players, at times, look great. He is probably one of the most complete players offensively already and he's only...what, 21? LeBron learned from the team's collapse from last year and wouldn't let it happen. We started to see him developing that clutch player mentality towards the end of the season. He still has a ways to go but I don't think it's too far off to say that LBJ as MVP is a valid argument.

AK1984 said...

"AK1984, I assume you're a white guy, and to me a white guy calling a black guy a bigot, based on the history of this planet, is like an executioner bitching because he's gonna have his head chopped off."

Biggie, considering that you and I have had similar arguments, you should know that I'm Caucasian.

As it is, though, I believe in egalitarianism; thus, as far as I'm concerned, any human being -- regardless of their ethnicity -- can be a bigot—there is no denyin' it!

Nuss said...

Thomas hasn't lived up to the expectations given to him, and his contract is out of whack, but that doesn't mean he's a bad player.

People seem to think that unless you're an all-star, you're a failure, and that's just not fair. Thomas is a legimitate starting player in the NBA - that makes him better than 70% of the guys in the league, which means he's better than just an average player.

I guess it all depends upon your definition of "good."

smallie said...

Nash shouldn't have i mvp trophy, let alone 2. Yes, he's pretty good (if you ignore defense). Yes, he improves those around him (if you buy the extremely dubious argument that he plays with scrubs). BUT even if you do lose your mind briefly and buy those big ifs, he's still only 'good' - not great, not mvp level, not 2 years running. He must give good head or something.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Nash's teammate's stats with the teammates of Lebron is ridiculous. Compare last year's stats, not this year, when all of Steve Nash's teammates had career years.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Nash's teammate's stats with the teammates of Lebron is ridiculous. Compare last year's stats, not this year, when all of Steve Nash's teammates had career years.

Nuss said...

I'm not sure who you're attacking, anonymous. Are you saying we should be going by last year's stats to back up Nash's claim for an MVP, or that his teammates are having career years this year, so we should disregard their stats?

chunks brother said...

No way Nash is MVP, one of the main reasons Dallas dumped him was for plays like the two costly ones he had in crunch time...i know where ridnour gets it now...

Anonymous said...

I was going with the fact that his teammates are having career years, so we SHOULD disregard their stats.

Nuss said...

Fair enough.

Bob said...

Nash MVP ? What a joke

Even in France NBA fans really don't understand this decision

His haircut is the only explanation I found !

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