The 2010 off-season is expected to be one of the more tantalizing ones in recent times, what with all the superstar free agents and their various objects of desire in terms of their next destinations. Akin to 27 other teams (other than Boston & LA, the NBA finalists who have a more important concern on mind), the Phoenix Suns are in a wait-and-watch mode, particularly since one of these superstar free agents happens to be Amare Stoudemire.
For a bunch of reasons, logic dictates that Amare should remain in Phoenix. The Suns’ system is a perfect fit for him, this has been his only team all through his career, he likes the city, the team is progressing well in terms of success, and Gentry and he have a good mentor-student equation.
But beyond all of those reasons, the single-biggest driver to why I think he needs to really think hard before even thinking of moving out is the fact that he plays alongside Steve Nash, quite simply the #1 rocket-booster to other players’ careers in the league today. In fact, this point should dictate free agency decisions not just for Amare, but also for other Suns’ free agents (Channing Frye, Lou Amundson) and for free agents from other teams looking at Phoenix as a potential destination.
To add factual logic and empirical evidence to this point, I researched through statistical data of several players that have played with Steve Nash as their teammate and then departed for supposedly greener pastures. Also included in this examination were a couple of players who play for the Suns now (Frye, Jared Dudley) but were with other teams until the last year or so. To drive home my point that this trend is player-driven and not system-driven, I also included Michael Finley who was Nash’s teammate in Dallas before Nash took off for Phoenix
The focus of this study is to measure the percentile difference in a players’ performance with and without Nash in the same jersey. For purposes of this article, I am illustrating the Before- and After- effects for 8 players, namely --- Quentin Richardson, Boris Diaw, Shawn Marion, Tim Thomas, Raja Bell, Michael Finley, Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley.
The results of the Before- and After- are simply astounding. Each of these eight players had a lot more personal success (and, in most cases, team success as well) while playing alongside Nash. Also, none of these guys was over 30, age-wise, when he left Nash, so the ‘over-the-hill’ factor did not matter either.
I realize that there are some exceptions to the overall trend, the most obvious of them being Joe Johnson. He elevated himself to star-level after leaving for Atlanta. But Johnson does not truly fall into this group because he was still an up-and-coming player while with the Suns and was part of a team that had five bonafide scorers.
So without further ado, here is the list of the Fortunate Eight rocket-fueled by Nash: