Derrick Rose May Be the NBA's MVP, but Steve Nash Is Still the League's Best PG

Bart GadburyContributor IIIApril 21, 2011

Derrick Rose May Be the NBA's MVP, but Steve Nash Is Still the League's Best PG

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Congratulations, Derrick Rose. 

    You are the 2010-2011 Most Valuable Player of the NBA.

    Ever since he announced to the world that he could be the NBA's MVP, Derrick Rose was-- to most.

    Although many debated whether he should win MVP, Rose became the media darling with his acrobatic finishes and improved shooting. Rose will narrowly beat out Dwight Howard for one of the highest honors of the NBA.

    But does winning the MVP mean you're the best player in the league? Many might argue that LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA. 

    Does it mean you're the best player at your position? Others might argue that Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Steve Nash are better point guards than Derrick Rose. 

    Derrick Rose will be the first PG to win the MVP award since Steve Nash won it twice in '05 and '06. So is he the best PG in the league? Has Steve Nash finally passed the torch to the next generation? 

    No. Not yet, at least. 

    Steve Nash is still the best PG in the NBA, so why not compare him directly with this year's MVP, Derrick Rose?

Assists

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Assists: Rose 7.7   Nash 11.4

    Turnovers: Rose 3.4   Nash 3.5

    The point guard's job is to bring the ball up the court, initiate the offense and distribute the basketball. There isn't a player in the NBA with the ball handling and passing ability equal to that of Steve Nash.

    At 37 years of age, Nash led the NBA in assists... again. This is the 5th time in seven years. He out paced the self-proclaimed 'best point guard in the league’ Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics.

    Before the 2010-2011 season started, Rajon Rondo said: “I’m the best, hands down. There’s no speculation. Not top three or top five, I’m the best.” 

    For a guy who can't hit a shot outside of eight feet, those are big words. But enough about Rondo not being the best…

    Steve Nash has proven once again that he is the best passer in the league. And although Rose has improved, I don’t think he’ll ever lead the league in assists.

Shooting

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    FG:  Rose 44%  Nash 49%

    FT:   Rose 85%  Nash 91%

    3PT:  Rose 33% (up from 26% and 22%)  Nash 39%

    The whole point of the game of basketball is to put a round ball into a basket. There isn’t a player in the history of the NBA who is more accurate than Steve Nash.

    Nash has made 50% FG, 40% 3PT, and 90% FT during an entire NBA season four times in his career, and narrowly missed a 5th in 2011.

    Only a small handful of players are in the 50-40-90 club. Larry Bird is the only other player to do so in multiple seasons (twice).

    In fact, Steve Nash could retire as the only player in NBA history to average 50-40-90 for his entire career. Not even MJ, Magic, Larry Legend, or even Kobe could do that.

    Rose as been working hard on his outside shot, and it shows. But he still has a long way to go.

Scoring

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Points:  Rose 25.0 ppg  Nash 14.7 ppg

    Number of FGA:  Rose 19.7   Nash 10.8

    There’s no doubt that Derrick Rose is one of the most exciting scorers in the NBA. And the fact that he has made serious strides in order to improve his outside shooting speaks volumes of his character.

    Rose averaged a career high 25.0 ppg, which was good for 7th in the league in scoring.

    But I’ve said for years that Steve Nash could lead the league in scoring.

    You laugh, but think about this: what if Nash shot as much as Kobe, LeBron, Melo, KD or Derrick Rose?

    For the sake of argument, we’ll look at Nash’s hypothetical numbers if he shot as much as Rose.

    Of his 20 FG attempts, 5 would be threes. Nash would make two, for six points (40%). That leaves 15 2pt attempts. Nash would make at least eight (to keep his FG% at 50, or 10-20) for 16 points. That would put him at 22 total points not counting FTs.

    Rose shoots seven FTs a game, Nash would make nearly all of them. Putting him at almost 29 ppg. Kevin Durant led the league in scoring at 27.7 ppg, putting Nash on top. 

    Now, you obviously won't see Steve at the top of the league in scoring next year. He's far more interested in getting his teammates involved and improving as a team. That's why he's a two-time MVP.

    But just remember... he could.

Quality of Team

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Chicago Bulls: 62-20

    Phoenix Suns: 40-42

    For some reason, many people think the Bulls resurgence is due solely to the play of Derrick Rose. But that’s not the case at all. The Bulls have put together a very good team.

    Before the 2010-2011 season, the Chicago Bulls made several key additions to drastically improve their team. Adding Carlos Boozer gave them an All-Star caliber PF, an inside scorer who could score 20 points and grab 10 rebounds each game. Kyle Kover gave them one of the purest shooters in the NBA, and he led the league in 3PT made in the 4th quarter. Ronnie Brewer is considered to be an excellent defender and finisher inside. They added size and depth with Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas.

    All of these players complement Rose extremely well, and make him a better player. Chicago hasn't seen a team this good since the Jordan era. 

    The Phoenix Suns have been a mess since 2008. Steve Nash has had to deal with three coaching changes, losing Amare Stoudemire to free agency, losing other players to trades and injury, and swirling trade rumors.

    The one consistent: Steve Nash. Even playing with a less than talented team (the Suns were about 10 years too late in acquiring Vince Carter), Nash still made the Suns relevant as they narrowly missed making the playoffs in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

    Without Nash, the Suns would probably have the 1st pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The Bulls have the best defensive team in the NBA and would still make the playoffs out East without Rose.

Defense

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Steals:  Rose 1.0   Nash 0.6

    Blocks:  Rose 0.6   Nash 0.1

    Rebounds:  Rose 4.1  Nash 3.5

    At first glance, you might say Rose is the better defender. Rose is obviously quicker, more athletic, and younger than Steve Nash. His defensive stats were slightly better than Nash’s in 2011.

    But stats don’t tell the whole story.

    Bruce Bowen was elected to the NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams eight consecutive times. He was considered one of the premier defenders in the NBA, but only averaged 0.8 SPG over his 14 year career.

    Shane Battier, Grant Hill and Shawn Marion (all of who are considered among the best perimeter defenders) all averaged 0.8 SPG in 2011.

    These aren’t gaudy defensive stats by any means. But they don’t take into account the number of deflections, charges taken, or double teams these players have been a part of.

    Keeping that in mind, Steve Nash averages 0.8 SPG for his career. Derrick Rose averages 0.9.

Once an MVP, Always an MVP

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    The two-time MVP is still playing at an MVP level. 

    Nash averaged 15.5 PPG and 11.5 APG during the 2004-2005 season, and won his first MVP award. In 2005-2006, Nash would win his second-consecutive MVP award, averaging 18.8 PPG and 10.5 APG. It could easily be argued that Nash should have won a third.

    This is what Nash averaged per game during his two MVP seasons (2004-2006):

    17.2 points, 11.0 assists, 3.8 reb, 34.9 min, 50.7 FG%, 43.5 3PT%, 90.4 FT%, 3.4 TO, 0.9 STL, 77 games

    This is what Nash has averaged in the four seasons since (2006-2010):

    16.9 points, 10.9 assists, 3.3 reb, 34.0 min, 51.2 FG%, 44.8 3PT%, 91.9 FT%, 3.6 TO, 0.7 STL, 78 games

    Nash is getting older every year, but it hardly shows. He continues to work hard in the off-season to keep his mind and body in elite condition. 

    His numbers this year are right at his 2004-2005 numbers (and would be higher if his team wasn't mediocre at best). 

    Just like the LA Lakers are the best team until they're beaten, Steve Nash is still the best PG until someone comes along that's better.

    But Steve may have to retire before that happens.