Perception vs. Reality Pt. 2: The Mighty Mighty Nash

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The other day Prof. John Hollinger’s PER Diem was about this season’s Over- and Underrated NBA Players.  On the promo for it on the NBA page, there was a picture of Steve Nash.  I thought, “Oh, sweet!  Hollinger’s gonna talk about how underrated Nash is and how people ought to be lovin’ him up.”  So I go to the column, scroll down, and see this:

Overrated: Steve Nash at 30

Well, I just about had a movement.  Overrated?  What the hell, Hollinger?  Then I took a breath and read the words “at 30.”  Oh.  Ok.  Next entry:

Underrated: Steve Nash at 35

Ah, got it.  Hollinger says:

Steve Nash at 30 was a Big Story. Steve Nash at 35 isn’t. But what Steve Nash is doing at 35 is way, way, way more amazing than what Steve Nash did at 30.

Well, I reckon that’s probably true.  Tell us why, Professor!

For starters, you’d have a hard time proving that the 35-year-old Nash is any worse than the 30-year-old Nash. Compared to his first MVP season in 2004-05, Nash is averaging three more points a game, providing just as many assists and rebounds per minute, and shooting better on 2s, 3s and free throws. He has a good shot at establishing a new career high in PER, not to mention becoming the first player in history to set a career high in scoring at age 35 or older.

Wow.  That really is pretty amazing.  And never mind proving he’s any worse; I think you’ve already proven that he’s better!  Better at 35 than at 30.  Huh.  That’s pretty unlikely, I suppose, especially when you consider how good he was at 30.  Hollinger goes on to say that no guard has ever produced as well as Nash at this age.  Stockton was good, but Nash’s production easily thumps his.  He finally says that he’s amazed that Nash isn’t getting any attention this year, given the amount of attention he got in 2005 and 2006.

My guess?  It’s a combination of two things: backlash (yeah, still) from people thinking he didn’t “deserve” those MVPs.  We won’t discuss those losers.  Also, I don’t think people get to see the man play enough.  The big MVP contenders are on national TV all the damn time.  The Cavs are on TV at least once a week.  Same with the Lakers.  I don’t mean to whine, but people just don’t see Nash play.  And as awesome as his stats are, he’s just amazing to watch play.  The things he does can’t be quantified in stats.  Watch the man play.  It’s unbelievable.

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