While I agreed with him (on the notion) that at their respective positions, LeBron James and Dwight Howard were indeed two of the league's best players, I found myself absent-mindedly disputing some of his other selections.
For example, while it is true that the Suns would indeed find themselves to be a far less fortuitous team without the play of Nash, he hasn't been the league's best point guard.
Actually, neither has (Chris) Paul as he's been sidelined with injuries for much of the season. Thus, having found himself (more often than not) on the Hornets' bench. And on the bench, Paul hasn't helped his team much.
At the moment though, there's been another. Unsurprisingly overlooked and unjustly undervalued.
So, Jason Kidd or Steve Nash?
Initially, when simply glancing at some of Kidd's boxscore statistics, Nash's seem to almost trump Kidd's by a considerable amount. But, when time is actually taken to assess their individual numbers, one can conclude that it is the former (not the latter) that is better.
For instance, when taking a long hard look at shooting efficiency, we can see that both Kidd and Nash are above-average for point-guards. Kidd likes to camp out at the three-point line, where he takes a majority of his shots (currently shooting over five per game). And In Nash, we simply see a player who gets himself to the free-throw line, without ever really getting to the free-throw line.
When you've adjusted for shots taken from the field and shots taken from three-point range (known as calculating a player's adjusted field goal percentage ), Kidd and Nash both shoot at blistering averages of 55.6 percent and 57.5 percent respectively. Clearly, Nash is the more efficient scorer, but not by much.
However, he does remain the better scorer overall, averaging 24.8 points/48 minutes played, third amongst point guards, behind Derrick Rose's 26.9 and (the currently inactive) Chris Paul's 25.3. Kidd on the other hand, only offers a paltry 13.1 points. This is well below-average for a point guard.
Kidd is also below-average with respect to free-throw shooting. But, that is where it ends.
The Numbers Story
Listed underneath, are figures illustrating what we see from an average NBA point guard versus what we saw from both Kidd and Nash over 60-games in 2009-10 (stats are pace-adjusted for 48 minutes).
Adjusted Field Goal Percentage: 47.4% avg PG, 55.6% Kidd, 57.5% Nash
Free Throw Percentage: 78.8% avg PG, 78.6% Kidd, 94.0% Nash
Personal Fouls: 3.6 avg PG, 2.4 Kidd, 1.9% Nash
Assists/game: 8.6 avg PG, 12.3 Kidd, 16.0 Nash
Blocked Shots: .3 avg PG, .71 Kidd , .23 Nash
Points/game: 18.4 avg PG, 13.1 Kidd, 24.8 Nash
Rebounds/game: 4.7 avg PG, 7.3 Kidd , 4.3 Nash
Steals/game: 2.0 avg PG, 2.6 Kidd , .7 Nash
Turnovers: 3.4 avg PG, 3.04 Kidd , 5.3 Nash
Intriguingly, when looking at the above figures, it would appear that Nash is still the better player of the two, as he leads in five categories (compared to Kidd's four). But, Kidd is only exceedingly below-average with respect to points scored and is only barely below-average as a free throw shooter.
In contrast, Nash is below-average in four categories, being well under the mark in two. Moreover, Kidd is well balanced through seven statistical performances (being well dominant in rebounding).
Thus, even though by some numbers Nash is truly great, by other numbers he is well below the average NBA point guard. When you measure mean value (above-average performance versus below-average performance), the net sum of Nash's season is one that is slightly below that of Kidd's.
Of course, the trend is one that could be reversed, but Nash would have to do just a little bit more in order to overtake Kidd in productivity.