Before there was Steph Curry, many people would argue that Steve Nash set the tone for a three-point shooting point guard that was also able to distribute the basketball unlike any other. With a career 3-point percentage of 43%, and as a two-time MVP, Nash has gone down as one of the greatest shooting point guards in NBA history. Lets dive into the legacy that Nash left behind.
The College Underdog
Steve Nash attended Santa Clara University and was one of the most polarizing figures in the NCAA Tournament over his four year career. He really made a name for himself in the 1993 NCAA Tournament as Nash and the no. 15 seed Broncos of Santa Clara upset the no. 2 seeded Arizona Wildcats, becoming only the second team at the time to do so. Nash went on to lead the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament in 1995 and 1996. People didn’t realize how good Nash was at the time, or what kind of impact he would have at the professional level, but Nash knew his game was just on the rise.
Nash got off to a slow start in his rookie season, not by his own doing, but because of who was in front of him. Two players with NBA Finals experience in Kevin Johnson and Sam Cassell, and All-Star Jason Kidd, were all in front of him. Playing only 10 minutes per game his rookie season, it proved to be a blessing in disguise for Nash as he learned behind some of the game’s best to start his career.
Once traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 1998, Nash’s career would eventually take off around 2001 when his PPG went from 8.6 the previous year to 15.6 in 2001. Nash helped lead the Mavericks to their first playoff appearance in more than a decade with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, and (All-Star at the time) Josh Howard. Nash was the facilitator of this offense that led to his first All-Star appearance in 2002. Nash was never able to get the Mavericks over the hump during his tenure, but gave the Mavs organization a start for something even greater that happened in 2010.
Nash’s best years came in his second stint with the Phoenix Suns when he teamed up with emerging young stars Shawn Marion, A’mare Stoudemire, and Joe Johnson. This Suns team became one of the first teams to play the style of basketball that some teams are once again adapting today. The style of play led by head coach Mike D’Antoni was up-tempo and encouraged outshooting every opponent. It proved to work as the Suns went on to average the most points in a season in that decade (110.4 PPG). Nash won NBA MVP in both the 2005 and 2006 seasons, shooting over 44% from 3 along with over 10+ assists and 17+ points in both seasons. The Suns fell victim to more veteran teams in both of those seasons, the Spurs in 2005 and the Mavericks in 2006.
Ending his career with the Lakers was tough for Nash as he battled with injuries countless times and only saw the playoffs once in 2013. Nash only played 65 games in LA over two seasons and retired from the game in 2015.
Steve Nash left behind a legacy that no one was able to leave before. The legacy of three-point guru along with being one of the best distributors of the ball during his tenure models the game of someone we all know too well, Steph Curry. Nash, coincidentally, has been named as a part-time consultant with the Golden State Warriors this season. This goes to show how much respect there is around the league for Nash’s play.
At times he was shooting over 47% from three while still averaging over 10 assists per game. That is something we hadn’t seen much of before Nash came along, now we are seeing it from Steph Curry on a daily basis (although Steph isn’t assisting at quite the same clip). Nash was a model point guard for many kids who grew up to be in the professional level today. He didn’t mind the spotlight, let his play speak for himself, and was a warrior. There are plenty of players who model their game after him, but there will never be another Steve Nash because he was the first of his kind to perform in the efficiency that he did.