A comparison of the careers of NBA legends Steve Nash and Jason Kidd.
The NBA is almost here, which means Steve Nash and Jason Kidd will be at it again.
These have been two of the most dominant players in the league for the past 10-15 years; they are the last point guards remaining from the class of the late 90s.
Both have had careers worthy of the Hall of Fame, and they are both about to embark on what we can assume to be their last chapters—Nash with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kidd on the other side of the USA with the New York Knicks.
While both will be looking to add to their already incredibly impressive numbers, who will leave the bigger legacy when it’s time to hang up their sneakers?
Nash was a fixture of the Phoenix Suns line up for the past eight seasons and is the main reason the Suns have been fairly successful over that period of time.
His ability to thread the needle with his passes and create for his teammates is second to none. To compliment his passing ability, Nash shoots a phenomenally high percentage from the field, particularly from the 3-point and foul line.
His offensive efficiency is extraordinary, but his ability to bring his teammates into the game and make them better is truly his biggest strength—a scary thought given he will be playing alongside the Kobe, Dwight and Pau trio this season.
But if there has been one knock on Nash throughout his career, it is his defensive ability. Not only does he struggle to guard fast, athletic opposition point guards, but even the slow, less talented ones sometimes trouble him.
While Nash’s passing is legendary, Kidd isn’t too far behind. In fact Kidd’s versatility has been a major strength of his for so long.
With a rebounding ability second to none for a point guard, Kidd is third all-time for career triple-doubles and second all-time in playoff triple-doubles.
However unlike Nash, Kidd’s defence is right up there with the best.
Not only does Kidd guard wonderfully, but during his career he has also taken on the task of guarding much larger opponents and got the job done, most notably in the NBA Finals.
Just ask LeBron James.
The statistics paint an interesting picture though. Nash’s career numbers speak for themselves.
Throughout 17 seasons Nash averaged 14.5 points per game at almost 50 per cent from the field, including close to 43 per cent from downtown. To go along with these terrific numbers Nash averages more than 90 per cent from the stripe with 8.6 assists per game.
Kidd’s shooting percentages are not quite as impressive; in fact, they are quite lousy (40 per cent from the field and only 35 per cent from 3-point land). Still, he averages 13 points per game to go along with nine assists and almost 6.5 rebounds.
The stats suggest Nash stands out more on the court, and this is highlighted looking at the players’ personal awards.
Nash has won two MVP’s in 2005 and 2006, one of only 13 players in the league’s history to win it multiple times. Nash also made eight All-Star appearances and has been named to three All-NBA First teams.
While Kidd has not won an MVP title, he has made more All-Star teams (10), was the Rookie of the Year in 2005 (shared with Grant Hill) and made five All-NBA first teams.
Nash may have the edge with his two MVP’s, but what about team achievement? Whether this is right or wrong, most players these days are judged by how many championships they have won, so when assessing a player’s career, the achievement of their team is vitally important.
Kidd led the New Jersey Nets to two consecutive NBA finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, where the Nets went down to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs respectively. But Kidd finally achieved every player’s dream when he won an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.
But Nash? Never even been to the NBA finals.
Weighing it all up, there is no doubt that Nash is the better offensive player. His creativity and efficiency has to be seen to be believed, and it is an absolute privilege to watch him play offensively.
But Kidd is the more complete player.
While not quite as dangerous offensively, Kidd more than holds his own with a ball in hand, but it is his rebounding and defending that make him an incredibly special player and a nightmare for opposition coaches and players.
This could all change this season.
Kidd has had the better career so far, simply because of his success in the postseason, but I’m sure Nash would gladly trade his two MVP awards for an NBA championship.
But If Nash can lead the Lakers to the NBA title this year, when all is said and done, Nash will be the one with the better career.
Two MVP awards plus an NBA championship? That would be enough to cement Nash’s place as one of the great point guards of all time.
He just has to get to the finals first.
Photo Credit: (top) Christian Petersen/Getty Images