Bloggystyle -- The Greatest: The Fitz Strikes Back -- Nash Debate Part II

Friday, April 22, 2005


The Fitz Strikes Back -- Nash Debate Part II

In a post Fitz describes as "the rebuttal," he argues my most recent post about why Nash was this year's MVP.

He did a good job of quoting me and countering me, so I must respond.
He's got a lot of assists, and he's an offensive sparkplug, but there are a few individuals that are more valuable to their respective teams that Steve Nash. For example, where would the 76ers be without Allen Iverson? They'd be a lot worse off than the Suns without Steve Nash.
I don't think the MVP has ever been judged like that. Trust me, after 82 games around the Greater Milwaukee Area, I think the Bucks could have gone 8-74 without Michael Redd. That doesn't make him the MVP.
According to Whitewater "The entire team is a defensive liability by design". Oh, I get it. They're supposed to suck on defense. That explains everything.
Let me explain this point further.

The Suns were the best team in the NBA this season because they outscored their opponents. In fact, 110 ppg were the most in 15 years. To score that many points in a game, the Suns must keep an extremely uptempo pace. Coach D'Antoni from the start has had the Suns play smallball, with Amare Stoudemire at the 5 and Marion at the 4. In essence, a clamp down defense that would slow down the pace of the game would hurt the Suns. Thus the talk that Phoenix can't succeed in the playoffs. I'm not saying Nash has ever been a good defender, but in this case Nash was able to lead the Suns to victory over 3/4 of the time by outscoring the opponent.

Besides, is there anyone who really believes Shaq plays good defense? Shaq refuses to step out on pick and rolls. Shaq gets about 2 blocks a game by being 7'1 and 350 pounds. Neither one of them is the Bruce Bowen of their position. In fact, none of the guys in the discussion are particularly strong defenders. Iverson and James adeptly play the passing lanes and inflate their steals numbers, but do you want a 5'11 165 pound guard trying to clamp down on anyone defensively? Ray Allen had a field day against AI in the 00-01 ECF.
Whitewater goes after Shaq rabidly. In an anti-Shaq point, Whitewater notes that Dwayne Wade "turned into a Top 10 player overnight." Overnight, huh? Wow, it's almost like nothing changed on the Heat between 2004 and 2005. Here's the thing: Shaq makes guards. Penny? Kobe? How have those two done without Shaq? Besides, there's no way that you can make the argument that the 4 players who surround Shaq are better than the 4 players that surround Steve Nash.
I've watched plenty of Wade (I am a Marquette fan after all), and if anything he's been able to showcase his game when Shaq's out or in foul trouble. If Wade was a spot up perimeter shooter, Shaq's influence would be stronger (look at Damon Jones). But Wade does his damage in the lane, which means that he's driving past his own defenders. Wade's a solid defender as well. I'm not saying Shaq hasn't helped Wade or the Heat, but I think it's misleading of Simmons to give Shaq all the credit for the Heat's turnaround. As for Kobe, Milwaukee could use his 26/6/6 or whatever it was this year. His numbers weren't exactly horrible.
Another anti-Shaq argument is that "the fact that he missed 10 games this season". Um, Steve Nash missed 7 games this year. But I forgot, Steve Nash gets credit when he misses games, because his team loses when he's doesn't play. According to Whitewater, it's the #2 reason why he should be the MVP.
The point I was making is that Shaq missed 10 games and the Heat still finished that well. In otherwords, I think credit was due to Wade. The Suns didn't win a single game that Nash missed.
There's only one problem with that argument: Kobe played almost as many games in each season. In the 2003-2004 season, Kobe played in 65 games, while this year Kobe played in 66. You can't tell me that the one game is going to result in a notable difference in their record.
The Lakers got rid of Shaq/Malone/Payton. They took back Butler/Odom/Atkins/Mihm as replacements. George was hurt much of the year. There were a number of factors besides Shaq why the Lakers went 34-46.
Steve Nash is ranked #15 in efficiency, which I feel is the most well-rounded measure of a player's abilities. Not only is he ranked #15 overall, but he is ranked behind both Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, which means he's 3rd in efficiency on his own team. Steve Nash ranked 40th overall in points-per-game, he is ranked 16th in "rebounds by a point guard", and he barely averages 1 steal. That ranks him 33rd in "steals by a point guard".
If Nash is less efficient than Marion and Stoudemire, he's the reason for it. The Suns averaged 25 points per game less this season with Nash out of the lineup. Stoudemire's points per game jumped up about 7 points per game this season. Outside of Jason Kidd, the differential of Nash's 3 rebounds to any other point guard's is negligible. That's not really their job anyway. The reason Nash ranked 40th in points per game is because he took so few shots. A better indicator of his efficiency in that regard would be points per attempt. Nash shot over 50% this year, 43% from three. It's not a question of Nash not being able to put Iverson's 30; Nash kept his points within the flow of their offense.

If we're going to argue about numbers, nothing eyepopping jumps out about Shaq's numbers to me. If someone is going to make an argument for Shaq as MVP, they're going to have to turn to the same arguments I am making for Nash about impacting his team. If the race was about #s, then LeBron or KG, or AI and Kobe would win it this season. The MVPs would be duking it out in the Toilet Bowl.

To keep it simple, here are my reasons Nash is MVP. He took a lottery team and added 33 wins to it. He was an irreplaceable part of the best team in the NBA this year. He rerevolutionized the way basketball in the NBA is going to be played (at least during the regular season). He was ridiculously efficient: 50% shooting and almost 12 assists per game. Thanks to Nash, every Suns starter was averaging over 14 per game. Thanks to Nash, Amare and Joe Johnson had career years.

Whether people agree with my reasoning or not, I'm still confident that Nash will win the NBA's MVP award.

well played whitewater. well played. I'm not going to debate this much further, mainly because we've both kinda staked our positions... but a few quick comments.

>I think it's misleading of Simmons to give Shaq all the credit for the Heat's turnaround


>Lakers lost Malone/Payton...

I would glady take Butler, Odom, et al for Malone and Payton 2004.
by the way, any idea of when they actually announce it?
I have no idea when it's announced. And yeah I agree the debate should stop before every damn post on the front page is about that crazy Canuck.
Ive written about who i think is mvp here
My vote is for the mayor too dj
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