Jason Kidd vs. Steve Nash: Who's Had the Better Career?
The point guard position is as strong as it’s ever been. It seems like every NBA team has a very good player at the position. Players like Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, to name a few, have brought the position back to prominence.
The new slew of young, talented and athletic point guards marks a transition. The league is almost completely finished with a changing of the guard. Jason Kidd and Steve Nash are two of the last holdovers from the late '90s, early 2000s generation of point guards.
Both Kidd and Nash have had long and Hall of Fame worthy careers. However, both played a very different style of basketball, and to determine whose career was truly best we have to take a long look at each of their bodies of work.
Let’s first look at the things both players did great. Both Kidd and Nash have been extremely talented distributors over the course of their careers. At the tender age of 38, Nash leads the NBA in assists this season, which would be the seventh time in his career that he has led the league in this category. Over the course of his career, Nash is averaging 8.6 assists per game, which ranks him ninth all time.
Kidd has also been a superb passer throughout his career. Kidd has led the league in assists on five separate occasions, and has averaged 9.0 assists per game over the course of his career, ranking him just ahead of Nash at eighth all time.
Their ability to lead their respective teams through their passing ability is about equal. Besides this, the two players are completely different.
Who has had the better career?
Nash is the far superior shooter to Kidd. He has always been a very good mid-range and long-range shooter, as for his career Nash is shooting 49 percent from the field, and a very impressive 43 percent from behind the arc.
Kidd has developed into a very effective three-point shooter in the second half of his career, even making it to third all time in three-pointers made, but has been a very inefficient shooter throughout the years. Kidd is shooting a putrid 40 percent from the field for his career, and 35 percent from three.
Nash has also averaged about a point-and-a-half more per game than Kidd for his career. Still, neither Nash nor Kidd is defined as a scorer, and they have both done the majority of their damage through running their offenses and setting up teammates.
What Kidd has done to make up for his shooting woes is become a great all-around player. Kidd has been an excellent rebounder and defender at the point guard position throughout his career. He has used his size and quickness to become great in both areas.
Even in last year’s finals, at the age of 38, Kidd was tasked with the intricate duty of covering LeBron James, which he did more than adequately. That went a long way in helping the Mavericks win the series.
His defensive prowess can be shown by his four selections to the NBA All-Defensive team, and five selections to the All-Defensive second team.
Kidd has also averaged 6.4 rebounds per game for his career, which is an astounding number for any non-big man, no less a point guard.
Nash has been thought of as a defensive liability over the course of his career. He has been routinely torched by both All-Star-caliber point guards and even mediocre ones. His rebounding numbers aren’t impressive either as he has averaged three rebounds per game over the course of his career.
When comparing the two players, one needs to look at accolades and awards as well. The big thing Nash has over Kidd is his two MVP awards. Only 13 players in league history have won the award on multiple occasions as Nash was able to do, while Kidd has never been named league MVP.
Kidd has been selected to 10 All-Star teams, five All-NBA first teams and one All-NBA second team. This means that five times Kidd was believed to be the best player at his position, and once he was thought to be the league’s second best point guard.
Nash has been selected to eight All-Star teams, three All-NBA first teams, three All-NBA second teams and two All-NBA third teams. When you add in Kidd’s nine All-Defensive team selections and Nash’s two MVPs, the accolades department is very similar.
The final thing we need to look at is what special quality or statistic defined the player.
Nash was defined through his great passing ability and his uncanny efficiency. There have been just nine seasons in NBA history in which a player has shot 90 percent from the free-throw line, 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. Players on this list include Larry Bird, Dirk Nowitzki and Reggie Miller. Nash has done it three times, more than any other player.
With Kidd, you go directly to the triple-doubles. Kidd ranks third all time in regular season triple- doubles with 107 under his belt. Also he has added 11 playoff triple-doubles, ranking him second all time. The only players Kidd trails on the regular season list are Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, and he only trails Johnson on the playoff list. Not bad company, to say the least.
Finally, when you look at team success, Kidd has made three NBA Finals, winning one of them last season with the Mavericks. Kidd was in his prime and the best player on his team when he made back-to-back finals appearances with the Nets, but last season was more of a role player for the Mavericks.
Nash has gone deep into the playoffs on multiple occasions, but has never reached the finals. This could be due in large part to the fact that Nash has played his entire career in the Western Conference, and has had to deal with the Lakers and Spurs dynasties every year.
What does all this mean? After all the research I did, I believe that Kidd has the slight edge over Nash. Kidd pales in comparison to Nash when it comes to shooting and efficiency, but does so many things on the court at a high level and has been a much more versatile player.
Nash has been, to say the least, a defensive liability throughout his career, and his game is restricted to passing and efficient scoring. Kidd has developed into a quality three-point shooter, and has always been able to fill up the stat sheet.
Both Kidd and Nash are first-ballot Hall of Famers. They have both been able to sustain long and influential careers, but I believe Kidd's career has slightly eclipsed that of Nash.
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