Whenmade his first All-Star appearance 10 years ago, not even his mother could have dreamed he would one day become an eight-time All-Star, as he is today. Yet of course Nash has only gotten better with age and tomorrow evening he will become the third-oldest player to ever suit up for an All-Star Game (a 38-year-old Karl Malone was voted in but did not play); only Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were older All-Stars.
In honor of Nash’s most recent All-Star appearance, the ValleyoftheSuns team goes 3-on-3 to discuss Two Time’s present greatness and his future.
What’s impressed you most about Nash’s sublime first half?
Michael Schwartz: Really everything, but if I had to pick one thing it would have to be leading the league in assists by a wide margin with only one teammate among the top 74 players in the league in scoring average (Gortat at 35th). Nash’s 10.9 assists per game puts him the same distance ahead of second-place Rajon Rondo as Rondo leads No. 7 Tony Parker. At this point it almost seems like Nash could lead the league in assists with the Washington Generals.
Ryan Weisert: His scoring. While his per game scoring average is down from last season, Nash has shown he can carry the scoring load for the Suns on any given night. He has already been the game-high scorer five times in this shortened season, a feat he accomplished only seven times in each of the previous two seasons. He also leads all guards in field goal percentage by a wide margin and is the only non-big man in the top 10.
Andrew Lynch: Nash’s first half is doubly impressive because of his performance both on the court and off. From a basketball perspective, the way in which he runs this Phoenix offense is still spectacular, assisting on almost 60 percent of made field goals when he’s on the court and leading the league in assists while playing with teammates who are shooting the ball at an average rate, at best. Nash’s handling of the constant trade rumors is even more impressive, though; he’s walked a fine line between being honest about his team’s shortcomings and making it clear that he has no desire to be elsewhere — at least, not right now — and he’s done so with aplomb.
How long do you think he can keep producing at this level?
Michael Schwartz: I’ve learned to never doubt Nash when it comes to age, as with his perfect diet and superior training techniques Nash years differ from human years. If he stays under the care of Aaron Nelson and his warlocks, I think Nash can continue to play near this level for the next two years and perhaps continue on at a lower level for another couple seasons after that.
Ryan Weisert: As long as he remains motivated. Nash is a freak of nature to be producing on this level at his age. His discipline and mental toughness are the engines that drive his incredible longevity. This season, it is clear Nash is playing hard out of loyalty to his teammates, his franchise, and the fans. If he isn’t in Phoenix next year and isn’t playing for that elusive ring, I don’t think he will have the same motivation and desire.
Andrew Lynch: One of the mad geniuses over at Gothic Ginobili, Aaron McGuire, recently told me that he believes Nash might not have reached his peak as a player until last year. Given Nash’s performance this year, I’m inclined to agree. Point guards tend to have a pretty steep decline on the back end of their careers, but Nash’s peak is so high and he’s in such great shape that I could see him playing at this level until the end of the 2012-20 season while continuing to be an above-average starting point guard for another year or two after that.
If you were Lon Babby, would you trade Nash, re-sign him or let him walk as a free agent?
Michael Schwartz: I don’t envy Babby and Blanks because there are so many complicating factors to this situation based on what Nash means to the franchise and the city, but you have to at least see what you can get for him. Nash is 38 and not many contending teams need a point guard, but if a situation arises whereby the Suns can snag a solid young player, an expiring contract and a first-rounder then you have to seriously consider pulling the trigger. If they don’t and the Suns can’t nab a quality restricted free agent, I would seriously consider another two-year deal for the ageless All-Star.
Ryan Weisert: Let Nash decide his own fate. If Lon Babby wants to maintain any credibility with his current players, future free agents, and most importantly the fans, he has to honor the fact that Steve hasn’t asked for a trade and let him play out this year. If Nash wants to leave Phoenix after the season and play somewhere else, so be it. If he wants to give Phoenix another year or two, I’m sure Babby would be happy to have him. Nash’s value in the trade market doesn’t match his value to the organization, thus the Suns would lose any trade involving him.
Andrew Lynch: Give me the power, and Steve Nash is gone before the trade deadline — so long as the price is right. I don’t mean that in the sense that a team is going to need to pay out the nose for a 38-year old point guard whose contract is set to expire this year; the important thing for the Suns is to not take back any onerous deals that limit their flexibility going forward or any middling pieces that would threaten the putridity of this team in the next season or two. The Suns need to get bad as soon as possible if they want to get better in the near-future.