If the HOF Gates Are Opened To Steve Nash, What Does It Mean for Others?
The Basketball Hall of Fame is lined up with tremendous talents who consistently outperformed their peers. Some of the most recent examples of players just being enshrined include Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, and David Robinson.
Those three names alone show the greatest players in NBA history. Another point to notate is that it's not the NBA Hall of Fame, it's the Basketball Hall of Fame. So, sometimes a player gets in not based solely on his NBA career, but also what they did in college or in the ABA.
The most notable player that has been enshrined was Bill Walton, because statistically he had only a couple of dominating seasons in his career while in the NBA and a majority of his time in the NBA was fighting off injuries.
Even with Walton, though he rebounded the ball, he is considered by many NBA experts and fans as one of the greatest passing big men of all-time, and defensively he was a great player as well.
So, it's not a wonder why combined with his college stats and his NBA stats, Walton was inducted in 1993. Walton also has a Finals MVP to his credit, as well as a NBA MVP award and two championship rings.
What does this have to do with Steve Nash? Plenty! There was a recent article about Nash being a lock for the Hall of Fame that can be found here. It does a good job of going over the players currently in the NBA that have the best chance of being enshrined, which players are on the border, and which players have some work to do, and lastly the possibility of some of the youngsters in the NBA getting their shot.
The reality is that if Nash gets into the Hall of Fame it will set a bad precedent. What it now means is that above-average players will now be able to be enshrined. The main reason for this is because of the severe flaws in Nash's overall game.
While Nash may be looked at for his toughness, such as playing with a bloodied nose after a collision with Tony Parker, also for his nifty assists, and the ability to shoot the basketball from beyond the arc and from the free throw line.
That's pretty much where it stops for Nash. Defensively Nash is a liability, hence why the Phoenix Suns needed defensive stoppers like Shawn Marion and Raja Bell. Another thing that Nash isn't good at is taking over games with his scoring as he has never averaged over 20 points per game in his career and also when Nash is forced to score his teams struggle to win.
Before looking at players who are likely to make the Hall of Fame based on their numbers. Let's take a look at Nash's resume since starting in the league, which can be put into three categories: awful, decent, and tremendous.
First season: 3.3 points, 2.1 assists, a rebound, .3 steals, on 42.3 percent shooting, 41.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 82.4 percent from the free throw line.
Second season: 9.1 points, 3.4 assists, 2.1 rebounds, .8 steals, on 45.9 percent shooting, 41.5 percent from three, and 86 percent from the free throw line.
Third season: 7.9 points, 5.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds, .9 steals, on 36.3 percent shooting, 37.4 percent from three, and 82.6 percent from the free throw line.
Fourth season: 8.6 points, 4.9 assists, 1.6 rebounds, .7 steals, on 47.4 percent shooting, 40.3 percent from three, and 88.2 percent from the free throw line.
Fifth season: 15.6 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, a steal, on 48.7 percent shooting, 40.6 percent from three, and 89.5 percent from three.
Sixth season: 17.9 points, 7.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds, .6 steals, on 48.3 percent shooting, 45.5 percent from three, and 88.7 percent from the free throw line.
Seventh season: 17.7 points, 7.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, a steal, on 46.5 percent shooting, 41.3 percent from three, and 90.9 percent from three free throw line.
Eighth season: 14.5 points, 8.8 assists, 3 rebounds, .9 steals, on 47 percent shooting, 40.5 percent from three, and 91.6 percent from three.
Ninth season: 15.5 points, 11.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, a steal, on 50.2 percent shooting, 43.1 percent from three, and 88.7 percent from the free throw line.
10th season: 18.8 points, 10.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, .8 steals, on 51.2 percent shooting, 43.9 percent from three, and 92.1 percent from the free throw line.
11th season: 18.6 points, 11.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds, .8 steals, on 53.2 percent shooting, 45.5 percent from three, and 89.9 percent from the free throw line.
12th season: 16.9 points, 11.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds, .7 steals, on 50.4 percent shooting, 47 percent from three, and 90.6 percent from the free throw line.
13th season: 15.7 points, 9.7 assists, 3 rebounds, .7 steals, on 50.3 percent shooting, 43.9 percent from three, and 93.3 percent from the free throw line.
14th season: 16.5 points, 11 assists, 3.3 rebounds, .5 steals, on 50.7 percent shooting, 42.6 percent from three, and 93.8 percent from three.
Career wise: 14.6 points, 8.3 assists, 3 rebounds, .8 steals, on 48.9 percent shooting, 43.2 percent from the free throw line, and 90.3 percent from the free throw line.
The first four seasons for Nash saw him mostly coming off the bench being a backup, but after his second season in the league he began to see more minutes. Playing 31.7 minutes and 27.4 minutes in his third and fourth season.
Nash didn't pick up his game until he was in a system employed by Don Nelson, which is a system that is designed to push the ball up the court and attempt to score as much as possible, there's truly no slowing down the pace or any worry about playing defense.
Before Nelson went to Dallas though he had a tremendous point guard in Golden State, a point guard by the name of Tim Hardaway. From Nash's third season till his eighth season, Nash played six seasons under Nelson.
For Hardaway it was from his rookie year to over halfway through his sixth year in the league. So, nearly the same amount of time both players were under the direction of Nelson.
Here's a look at Hardaway's numbers under Nelson:
First season: 14.7 points, 8.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, on 47.1 percent shooting, 27.4 percent from three, and 76.4 percent from the free throw line.
Second season: 22.9 points, 9.7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2.6 steals, on 47.6 percent shooting, 38.5 percent from three, and 80.3 percent from the free throw line.
Third season: 23.4 points, 10 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2 steals, on 46.1 percent shooting, 33.8 percent from three, and 76.6 percent from the free throw line.
Fourth season: 21.5 points, 10.6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.8 steals, on 44.7 percent shooting, 33 percent from three, and 74.4 percent from the free throw line.
Fifth season: 20.1 points, 9.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, on 42.7 percent shooting, 37.8 percent from three, and 76 percent from the free throw line.
Majority of Sixth season: 14.1 points, 6.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, on 42.1 percent shooting, 36.6 percent from three, and 76.9 percent from the free throw line.
There's truly no comparison here, Hardaway could take the game over with his offense hence he shot more than Nash did, he scored more, he assisted on more, and got to the free throw line more.
From Nash's ninth season on he went back to the team that originally drafted him the Phoenix Suns. Under the direction of Mike D'Antoni Nash was able to start putting up those gaudy numbers.
The reason he was able to do this was because of Amare Stoudemire. Unlike in Dallas where Nash had Dirk Nowitzki, he had a guy who was willing to score in the paint rather than settling for wing jumpers.
Which, allowed the Suns to add wing players that could hit open threes. So, it was for teams either let Stoudemire score on the inside or let the Suns shoot threes. Much like Nelson's system, D'Antoni's didn't call for very much defense.
It was get up and down the court as much as possible and score. Hence why the Suns were never successful in the playoffs and still one of the main reasons why Nash has never been to the NBA Finals.
There was a coaching change from D'Antoni in Nash's 13th season. That coaching change didn't go very well because neither Nash or Stoudemire bought into the system that new coach Terry Porter employed.
Porter's system called for the Suns to slow the pace down and feed the post because midway through the previous season the Suns had acquired Shaquille O'Neal. With the slower pace that meant the Suns actually had to play defense and even though Porter had led the Suns to a 28-23 record through 51 games he was fired.
Replacing Porter was one of D'Antoni's assistants Alvin Gentry. Once Gentry came in the Suns went back to the run and gun system that was employed by D'Antoni and here are some of the examples throughout the career of Nash of his inability to play defense.
With Nash's numbers and the system he's played in and if offensive stats are the only thing to look at for the Hall of Fame then here are a few examples of players who are not in the Hall of Fame that would be in based on the criteria for allowing Nash in:
Zach Randolph: Randolph would get in no problem, he's averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds five times in his career, he's not overly impressive on the defensive end, but thats alright because Nash isn't either and another flaw for Randolph is that he's not much of a passer once he gets the ball in the post.
2009-2010 was the best in Randolph's career as he averaged 20.8 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and a steal.
Latrell Sprewell: What can be said about Sprewell? Maybe the fact that his attitude hindered him the most in his career. His biggest flaw was going after P.J. Carleismo and was suspended for the year.
Offensively he didn't shoot for a very high percentage from the field or from beyond the arc, but he made up for that by being one of the better defensive guards in the league.
His best season came in 1996-1997 when he averaged 24.2 points, 6.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 steals.
Rod Strickland: One of the more underrated point guards in NBA history. Like Sprewell, he did have some attitude problems that were documented, but he truly was a solid point guard in the NBA.
He was a good defender, shot decently from the field, but didn't shoot the three very well. His best season came in 1997-1998 when he averaged 17.8 points, 10.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals.
Mark Jackson: Biggest flaw of Jackson was that he wasn't much of a scorer, only averaging 9.6 points for his career, but he could rebound, post up smaller point guards in the paint, and was a solid defensive player.
For Jackson his best season in the NBA came in 1987-1988, his rookie year when he averaged 13.6 points, 10.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.5 steals.
Kevin Johnson: Johnson, the best point guard in Phoenix Suns history, would have had an even better career if injuries hadn't cut his career short. He was a tremendous scorer, excellent passer, solid defender, and his only weakness was that he didn't shoot the three very much.
Johnson's best season came in 1988-1989 when he averaged 20.4 points, 12.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.7 steals.
Bernard King: A tremendous scorer and a decent defender. King also had a career shortened by injuries but still managed to play in nearly 850 games for his career.
King's best season arguably was his rookie season of 1977-1978 when he averaged 24.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.5 steals.
Tom Chambers: Another truly underappreciated player. He had a long, successful career in the NBA. His career stats are similar to another player on the aforemention article on likely Hall of Famers.
Chambers could score the basketball, he wasn't that strong of a rebounder, and was just alright defensively. His best season came in 1989-1990 when he averaged 27.2 points, 7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals.
Tim Hardaway: Tim Hardaway had one of the greatest moves in NBA history and that was his "killer crossover" he made even the greatest of defenders look silly. The biggest knock on Hardaway in his career was that he played under Don Nelson, a coach not known really for having strong defensive teams.
When Hardaway was traded to the Heat there were questions about whether he could play under Riley and actually play defense. Hardaway silenced his critics and had some tremendous seasons with Riley.
As for Hardaway his best season came in 1991-1992 when he averaged 23.4 points, 10 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Guy Rodgers: Rodgers isn't talked about much although he was one of the best point guards in the NBA's early era. One of the first players in NBA history to average over 10 assists per game.
Rodgers' best season came in 1965-1966 when he averaged 18.6 points, 10.6 assists, and 5.3 rebounds.
Mark Price: Price was an outstanding shooter, shot the ball extremely well, and played defense. His flaw was the he had injuries that shortened his career.
His best season came in 1989-1990 when he averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals.
Terrell Brandon: Another point guard that had his career cut shot by injuries. He was a solid point guard when he did play. He was a solid defensive point guard even though he wasn't the tallest point guard in the league.
His best season came in 1999-2000 when he averaged 17.1 points, 8.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals.
Sam Cassell: When he was in his prime he didn't have very many holes in his games. He was bounced around a little bit, but hardly his fault, and he could have been a little better defensively and did tend to shoot a little too much at times.
Best season for Cassell is in the 1997-1998 season when he averaged 19.6 points, eight assists, three rebounds, and 1.6 steals.
Stephon Marbury: His career could be summed up by him having a way too high opinion of himself. Marbury could have been an elite tandem with Kevin Garnet instead he forced his way out.
That was his biggest problem wherever he went was that he wore out his welcome. Even with his hometown team the New York Knicks, but when he was on his game he was an excellent scorer, solid passer, and decent defensive player.
His best season came in 1998-1999 when he averaged 21.3 points, 8.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.
Now what about Steve Nash, what about him? Nash is seen as a great passer, great shooter, but piss-poor defender.
The best season for Nash was in 2006-2007 when he averaged 18.6 points, 11.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and .8 steals.
When looking at the players just inducted like Pippen, Malone, Jordan, and Robinson, does Nash really belong in the same sentence as them? What about other Hall of Fame point guards? Point guards Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, John Stockton, and Bob Cousy?
There's plenty of belief that Nash is among the top 10 point guards in NBA history, but when looking at those Hall of Fame players, from day one of stepping on the court they were amongst the best at their positions.
Nash on the other hand started his career off extremely slow! It took him until his fifth season to finally average over 10 points per game, it took him until his ninth year in the league to average over 10 assists, and only three times in his career has he averaged a steal per game.
Yet, once Nash retires he won't even be an afterthought. The NBA has plenty of young, rising point guards in the league such as Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Darren Collison just to name a few.
On the website Basketball-Reference.com it has a nice, probability chart for Hall of Fame players and at the link found here it shows that Nash has a 36.5 percent probability of making the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is for the elite, the best of the best! There's one thing for sure and that Nash has had a very good career, but the Hall of Fame isn't the Hall of Very Good, it's for the best of the best, the elite talents and athletes, the players who could take over a game, and even after they've retired these players will still be talked about.
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