Phoenix Suns: 30 greatest players of all-time

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images /
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Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
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1996-98, 2004-12. Steve Nash. 1. player. 66. . Point Guard

Any fan of the Suns reading this far into this piece knows who the best player in Phoenix history is without looking. Point guard Steve Nash is one of modern basketball’s biggest heroes, a player loved by fans of every sort (perhaps outside of San Antonio, at least) and a pioneer of a style of basketball that has taken over the entire league after his retirement.

The Canadian native was not well-recruited coming out of high school, playing for small Santa Clara. He nonetheless lead them to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons, including a pair of upset victories to bracket his college career. He was then selected 15th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft.

Even once in the NBA, Nash was not looked at as an elite prospect. He did not start in his first two seasons in the desert. In 1998, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he would establish himself as one of the more talented point guards in the league alongside Dirk Nowitzki.

In 2004, he returned to the Suns as a free agent. The combination of Nash and head coach Mike D’Antoni proved to be a potent one. Nash posted a career-high 11.5 assists per game in his first season back in Phoenix. The Suns leapt from 29 wins to an NBA-best 62.

Nash’s ability to shoot forced defenses to defend him closely, opening up the court for his teammates, who Nash would seemingly always find with the ball. The Suns’ up-tempo style of play became known as “Seven Seconds or Less” and is a crucial part of the league’s development in recent years.

Nash spent the next eight seasons in Phoenix putting up incredible numbers, scoring and passing at elite levels. The Suns continued to be dominant in the regular season, even if they never could break out of a loaded Western Conference that included Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks, Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan’s Spurs.

Six times Nash was named an NBA All-Star while with Phoenix. He made five All-NBA teams including three nods to the First Team as a member of the Suns.

In 2005 and 2006, Nash was named NBA MVP, giving him two-thirds of the franchise’s MVP awards. He amassed 82.7 win shares for the team, third-most all-time. He is the franchise leader in 3-point field goals, assists and offensive win shares.

Next. Phoenix Suns: 15 best draft picks in franchise history. dark

Nash ended his career battling injuries or he may have hit even higher heights. Even so, his contributions to the Suns were extensive. He showed that a player can be wildly successful, while also making all of his teammates better. Few players in the history of the league have done that as well as Nash, the greatest player in Suns franchise history.