Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson made a statement about his rookie point guard Stephen Curry, saying that Curry reminded him of one of his former players, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, and I was struck by the accuracy in the comment.
I had never given it much thought, but Curry and Nash are about the same height, around 6'3", they both love to play the game at a quick tempo, and they both have deadly range on their perfect-form jumpers.
While their games are very similar, there are a few areas where they differ. There are also a few areas where a distinct advantage is held by one or the other.
For one, there is not much argument as to the superiority of Nash's court vision, because he is one of the best decision makers on the fly, possibly in the history of the game.
The beauty of Nash's game is seen in full rhythm on the brink of transition, where Nash is able to survey the floor and seemingly predict where his teammates will be before the no-look pass leaves his hands.
Simply poetry in motion. The time he has spent refining his outside game is admirable too, as Nash is comfortable pulling up in transition or coming off screens to get his shot.
And Nash is accurate, always hovering around 50 percent from the field and the three-point line, which is amazing considering he gets his fair share of shots and has the ball in his hands so often.
Curry may not have Nash's vision, but for a rookie point guard responsible for directing the Warriors' chaotic attack, he's doing a pretty good job and the ceiling appears quite high for the young player.
The most impressive things about Curry are his knowledge of the game and his willingness to learn from mistakes, plus his intelligence and maturity level belie his boyishly young looks.
He seemed a little uncomfortable when the season started and it took him a while to get accustomed to his team and the NBA in general, but lately his confidence has returned, and so has his shot, as he has gone from 40 percent to nearly 48 percent from the field.
The offense is great, but what separates Curry from Nash is his defense, and the willingness to commit himself to excel in that area, whereas it is nothing more than a passing fancy to Nash.
Nelson, known for rarely giving rookies a shot, has said he was amazed at Curry's growth at the defensive end and said his instincts in the passing lanes are the best he's seen in a long time.
I'm not sure if Nash has ever chosen to apply himself to the defensive end, but if he has, it's failed to materialize in his game, and due to his extended time in the league, it's not likely to show up now.
When you really think about it, defense may be the primary difference in the comparison between Nash and Curry because their styles and the way they approach the game is similar and they have similar skills.
Experience may be Nash's main edge, but that is something Curry will gain as he garners more time on the court and his potential continues to manifest.
Curry does have problems with turnovers, but so does Nash, and unlike Nash, Curry is learning from his mistakes and beginning to reduce the number he makes.
Unless fate deals Curry a bad hand, he has a chance to have a career every bit as decorated as Nash's and because of his defensive acumen, he may be able to edge ahead of Nash once history has had its say.
Right now it's purely speculation, but Curry has shown the dedication needed to be a great player, and even though Don Nelson is accused of making some mistakes with the Warriors, I think he hit the nail on the head with this comparison.