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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Duncan Dominates, Nash--Not So Much

The story of the San Antonio-Phoenix series will ultimately boil down to two things: (1) the Spurs have the best player on either team, Tim Duncan; (2) the Spurs can win at the Suns' preferred uptempo pace but the Suns cannot win at a slowdown game. Duncan had 33 points, 19 rebounds and three blocked shots as the Spurs defeated the Suns, 108-101, to take a 2-1 lead. Those kind of numbers are nothing new for Duncan in the playoffs; in fact, Duncan moved into fifth place on the career postseason list for 30 point, 15 rebound games: this was his 15th, one more than Hakeem Olajuwon had; the only players who had more such games are Wilt Chamberlain (39), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Elgin Baylor (31), Bob Pettit (24) and Shaquille O'Neal (22).

Manu Ginobili added 24 points, including 12 in the third quarter; Ginobili did most of that damage while Duncan rested and after Ginobili was accidentally poked in the eye by Shawn Marion. No foul was called on the play but, instead of whining about the non-call, Ginobili focused his anger into raising his level of play. As ESPN's Greg Anthony pointed out after the game, when someone else can carry the load with the superstar on the bench it means that the superstar will be able to have a lot of energy to finish the game. Anthony could have added that this was something that Scottie Pippen provided for Michael Jordan--and something that Kobe Bryant desperately needs now. Marion led Phoenix with 26 points, while Amare Stoudemire had 21 points in 21 foul-plagued minutes; he was his own worst enemy, committing some obvious infractions at moments when he had to know that one more foul would send him to the bench--better to give up one basket and keep playing for several more minutes than to try to make a sensational, difficult block. Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds but he committed five turnovers and shot just 6-17 from the field. The amazing thing about this game is how small of an impact the two-time MVP had on the outcome. In fact, the Suns actually played better when he was not in the game. Nash sat down with 2:13 left in the first quarter and Phoenix leading 24-19. The Suns were up 39-29 early in the second quarter and still led 39-33 when he returned at the 8:12 mark. He played the rest of the quarter and the Spurs outscored the Suns 22-14 to take a 55-53 halftime lead. Nash had five assists in the first half but shot 0-4 from the field. Let's imagine that Dirk Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant shot 0-4 from the field in a half of a playoff game. Would either of their teams still be within two points? Would that be written off as something that just happens or would it be considered an indictment of their heart/character? Anyone who is honest knows that if Nowitzki shot 0-4 in a half of a playoff game he would be called a "choker" and if Bryant did so he would be called a "quitter" who is supposedly trying to show up his teammates.

Nash's struggles continued in the third quarter, as he turned the ball over on the Suns' first possession. Later, he scored his first point of the game by splitting a pair of free throws but he missed his first five field goal attempts of the quarter before making a jumper at the 5:00 mark, pulling the Suns within 66-62. During the telecast, Jon Barry mentioned a couple times that Raja Bell shot 4-4 from three point range during the first half but did not get many attempts in the second half. Of course, anyone watching the game could see that. One would hope that an analyst would explain why that happened. Was Nash shooting too much? Was Bell not working hard enough to get open? Did the Spurs' defensive coverage of the three point line improve in the second half? One thing that I know for sure: if Bryant had a teammate who shot 4-4 from three point range in the first half (sheer fantasy, but work with me here) and that player did not get the ball in the third quarter while Bryant was bricking away at a 1-10 clip then we would hear a lot about how Bryant shoots too much and does not get his teammates involved. That criticism is not true of Bryant and does not apply to Nash either; the question is why are these two players looked at so differently when they are doing very similar things. After the game, Nash said, "I am always going to try to be aggressive and I try to take what the defense gives me. If I'm there to shoot I have to keep on shooting and if I am drawing attention and can pass to a teammate then that is the play I try to make." Bryant has repeatedly said almost exactly the same thing, but it seems like many people don't take him at his word even though it is obvious that he does in fact also play that way. Bryant and Nash are both great players who read the defense and try to take what is there. Nash is a point guard, so his role involves more passing, while Bryant is a shooting guard whose primary role involves scoring--but Nash can certainly score and Bryant is usually his team's top playmaker.

Somehow, in the past three years Nash has gone from an underrated point guard to someone whose reputation has been pushed to a place that his performance cannot in fact match, particularly against elite teams in playoff competition. Bryant is a three-time champion who can make even a poor team competitive; Duncan is a three-time champion; Nowitzki, who has somehow become a "villain" even though he had nothing to do with guarding Baron Davis, has had a great playoff career and already taken a team to the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Nash is paired with a talented cast that he has yet to elevate to a championship level: he and Amare Stoudemire are the first teammates to make the All-NBA First Team since Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant--a duo that of course won three titles together; Nash also has another All-Star running mate in Shawn Marion, plus Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa, All-Defensive Team selection Raja Bell and several talented role players. Phoenix Coach Mike D'Antoni has stated that the Suns have more talent than the Spurs but that the Spurs play together better. Obviously, he did not mean that as a swipe at his MVP point guard but think about this objectively for a moment: We are supposed to believe that Nash has "made" all of these players great and then at the same time we are supposed to accept the idea that after winning two MVPs by "making" these players great that this MVP and his great teammates cannot make it to the NBA Finals even once. Sooner or later, people will have to figure out that all of this does not add up.

Nash did score 10 fourth quarter points but the Suns never got closer than six points and spent most of the period working uphill against a double digit deficit--a deficit built in large part while Nash was missing shots and committing turnovers. Meanwhile, while Duncan has been a nightmare for the Suns to cover, the Suns have had to take Nash off of opposing point guard Tony Parker because Parker abuses him so badly. In Game Three, Nash was assigned to Bruce Bowen, who is not a threat to post up or drive. Still, Bowen delivered 10 points, nine rebounds, four steals and one blocked shot, which is a lot of tangible production for a guy whose primary role is to play positional defense (Bowen does not usually get a lot of steals or blocks). The reality is that there there is no place to hide Nash defensively in this series.

Why am I seemingly writing off the Suns when the Spurs are only up 2-1 while in other series I caution against reading too much into one game? Simple. I am not basing my assessment of Nash and the Suns on one game; that is the fallacy that others use when talking about Bryant (and now Nowitzki) but I am not doing that at all. The fact is that the Suns have a poor record against the Spurs for the past several years; they can compete with the Spurs, at times, but when push comes to shove they lose--and we have seen nothing in the first three games of this series that suggests that anything different is going to happen now. The Suns will play well and will probably win one more game--and then they will go home and the Spurs will advance to the Western Conference finals.

After that happens, I will be left with the same unanswered question that I have had for some time: how can Nash be a two-time MVP if his primary qualification for the award revolves around winning and his team has not won anything? I've heard some people who voted for Nowitzki to be this year's MVP say that they wish that they could have their vote back based on what happened to the Mavericks in the first round. At least the Mavericks lost to a team that is peaking. What exactly have Nash and the Suns accomplished so far in the playoffs? They beat a Lakers team that had one of the worst records down the stretch of any team in the NBA--and they could not even sweep that dysfunctional team because Bryant, the best player in the NBA, willed the Lakers to a victory with a 45 point outburst. Then, in Game One versus the Spurs the Suns squandered homecourt advantage and in Game Three Nash had a very subpar performance.

I am amused by all this talk now that the MVP voting should be done after the playoffs. This is supposed to be a dig at Nowitzki but wouldn't Nash have to give back both of his MVPs, too? The regular season MVP should go to that season's outstanding individual player, whether he carried a great team to 60-plus wins or a poor team to 40-plus wins. If the voters go back to honoring individual excellence then they won't have to wait with bated breath for "their guy" to not lose early in the playoffs. There is a Finals MVP to honor the player who leads his team to a championship.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:36 AM

22 comments

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22 Comments:

At Sunday, May 13, 2007 4:41:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

Good points. I wonder many of the same things.

What gets me is throughout the first-round, all people talked about was how Kobe and T-Mac needed to lead their teams out of the first round and have playoff success to validate themselves (apparently, Kobe's career started in 2005 in most people's views). Yet, throughout the second round, I haven't heard a single peep from the media about Nash's inability to lead his team to the finals or get his team past the Spurs. If people are going to talk about Nash like he is arguably the best player in the league, they need to scrutinize him the same way they scrutinize Kobe, T-Mac, Lebron (who is still supposedly loafing), etc.

On paper, the Suns have more talent than the Spurs. Nash should be criticized heavily if the Suns lose. Yet, while the Spurs continue to move closer to eliminating the Suns, Mike Breen and Jon Barry will continue to overreact to every play Nash makes and marvel at how he might be the best passer or best point guard ever. (I laughed out loud when Barry went on and on about a Nash pass to Amare which resulted in a foul with 30-something seconds left and the Spurs up by about 9 points.)

Maybe the media will blame Marion or Amare for the loss, because I can't see them going after Nash. It's just amazing the way Nash is held to different standards.

Two more thoughts:

1. Here's another problem that Nash's inability to guard anyone presents: with Marion having to guard Parker, the Suns best rebounder is taken away from rebounding position, hurting the Suns' fast break.

2. I found the Suns' constant whining cheap and lame. Every time you saw Nash, Amare or D'Antoni on TV, they were whining to the refs. Why don't they just shut up and play ball like the Spurs? Yes, there are bad calls, but it goes both ways.

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 1:07:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

nash is a great player why do you bring up nowitzki and bryant after every loss for real man you need to get over that there not playing any more nowitzki did get to the finals and beat the spurs you got a good point with him he shouldnt get criticized as much as he does but kobe ran shaq out or used his contract leverage to move him he made his own bed he'll never be forgiven for that and he is unfairly scrutinized for it no doubt your point is valid that nash is less scrutinized but it's just how it is. kobe went 13-33 in game 5 odom shot 65% and the rest of the team shot 53%. more times than not nash will get the ball to the guy who is hot more times than not this is a aberation every player has bad games. also the kobe crictism on the occasion somebody is hot he doesnt usually find that person he shoots alot more than nash does.I was laughing when you said they played similar in what way nash is an asists man kobe is a scorer they played similar for a game like that but kobe would be like 13-35 if he shoots bad. nash shoots a better percentage cuse he takes better shots and clearly has more assists because he plays with better players and he knows how to find them better. when kobe played with shaq he averaged like 6 asists one year micheal jordan in 88-89 averaged 8 playing with brad sellers and company come on stop trying to bash my man nash after every game they dont win. and ive never heard anybody say that nash was the best player in the league ive always said kobe was aand then lebron and then nash my 3 fav players so dont get you there. you make good points it's just circumstances make nash get better treatment

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 1:19:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

Barry's brother plays for the Spurs, so I wonder if he is bending over backwards to seem objective. As for Breen, I don't know what has gotten into him but I almost felt embarrassed for him after he kept heaping praise on Nash for blowing layups. "What a great move! Oh, he missed the shot but it was a great move!"

Marion and Amare have, at various stages of the season, been portrayed as disgruntled, so I think that the stage has been set to blame one or both for the Suns not going all the way.

You make an excellent point about the domino effect of Nash not being able to guard Parker and how this takes Marion out of rebounding position. The other thing is that Marion can't really guard Parker either. It was an interesting novelty for one game, but did not really affect the Spurs in Game Three.

Yes, the Suns whined ten times more than Duncan and the Spurs, who have been called whiners, especially in the wake of the Joe Crawford incident. Breen and Barry seemed to think that every call that went against the Suns was bad. I mean, Amare slaps Duncan right across the wrist and does not even touch the ball and Barry says that it is not a foul; even Breen had to talk him out of that one. Then, late in the game they tried to say that Nash was fouled when he just lost the ball. Horry poked the ball free. After the ball was out, there MAY have been some incidental contact but that will never be called in an NBA game when the ball is already out. Breen and Barry never said a word about Nash not getting back on defense because he was too busy whining to the refs. I also noticed how Breen and "expert analyst" Barry never bothered to explain how Bowen, who Nash was ostensibly guarding, got wide open for some key late game three pointers. The thing is, the media can pump up Nash as much as they want but Nash is not the best player and the Suns are not the best team, so Nash and the Suns are going to continue to fall short in the playoffs against the Spurs.

I don't have anything against Nash. He's always reminded me of Mark Price and for quite some time I thought that he was a bit underrated and I wondered when he would get the credit he deserves. Now, though, things have gone so overboard that it is absurd. Yes, he has improved in the past three years compared to the earlier part of his career but the uncritical way in which he is viewed and the ludicrous comparisons of him to Magic Johnson are simply baffling. If Nash and these Suns played against Magic's Lakers, Magic would post up Nash and score about 35 ppg. If the Suns put Marion on Magic or doubleteamed him then he would shatter every assist record known to man against the Suns' soft interior defense and late rotations--and if Nash does not like being guarded by Bowen, let him try to go against Michael Cooper, who was longer, quicker and a better leaper than Bowen. If the Suns think that the Spurs are physical, try to play against Stockton, Malone and the Jazz. I like the stat that was pointed out in the first game: Stockton has more career assists than Kidd and Nash COMBINED. It could also be pointed out that while Stockton and Kidd each made the All-Defensive Team several times, I have made as many All-Defensive Teams as Steve Nash has. I agree with Bill Walton that the NBA should do away with flopping and with allowing guys to run right in front of a driving player and then fall down. Taking a charge should mean an on ball defender holding his ground, not a guy running over from left field (sorry for the mixed metaphor) at the last second. Nash is great at this "skill" and I can't blame him for taking advantage of the rules but if this were made illegal then he would not be able to even pretend that he can play NBA defense. I was glad that when he tried to do this to Duncan that Duncan ran him over and the official called the foul on Nash. Of course, Breen and Barry disagreed but it was obvious that Nash ran over and then got under Duncan once Duncan was already in the air, which is actually as dangerous--or dirty--as anything else we've seen in this series. That type of thing is a good thing to do in a rec league game--if you want to start a fight, that is; running underneath a superior athlete because you can't guard him should have no place in the NBA. If Nash or someone else is already set under the basket and Duncan plows him over, then of course it is a charge--but Nash flew over there from several feet away. That's not defense.

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 1:41:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Marcel:

What is wrong with bringing up Nowitzki and Bryant? Isn't Nowitzki about to get the MVP in a couple days? Isn't everybody in the media killing Nowitzki for losing in the first round? Kobe is the best player, but he gets unfairly criticized and held to a much different standard than two-time MVP Nash. When are we going to hear something negative about Nash, whose overall playoff career is not as good as Nowitzki's? I don't make much out of one bad game for Nash, just as I don't make much out of one bad game for Nowitzki. The point is that Nash has gotten two MVPs and a ton of praise for winning nothing, while Nowitzki and Bryant are held to a much higher standard.

It's been much discussed here but bears repeating that Kobe did not run Shaq out of L.A. Jerry Buss decided that he did not want to have two max contract players and elected to stick with the younger Bryant. Did you hear Riley recently say that if Shaq only wants to play for half a year then maybe he should give back $10 million of his $20 million a year? Buss does not have the same financial resources that the Heat do and did not want to pay Shaq to be a part time employee. So far, the Heat have paid Shaq about $60 million to win one title in three years. That's not bad if you can afford it but not everyone can afford that while still being on the hook for tens of millions of more dollars for Shaq as he gets older.

While Nash's numbers in Game Three may be an aberration, his team's inability to make the Finals is a trend. Let's flip the argument around and say that Nash really is the best player. OK, how come the best player plus an All-NBA First Teamer plus another All-Star plus the Sixth Man of the Year plus an All-Defensive player plus good role players can't make it to the Finals even once? How much better is Nash really making all of these talented players if they can't win when it counts the most? Everyone spends so much time trying to figure out why Kobe can't win a title with Kwame and Smush; I think making it to the first round with those guys is pretty good. Put Kobe with Amare and Marion and Barbosa and Bell and you don't think that team would win 65 games and a championship? Like Vednam said, Kobe's career didn't start in 2005: he already has three rings.

When MJ averaged eight apg he was playing point guard down the stretch of the season, not shooting guard. Doug Collins was the coach, not Phil Jackson, and they weren't running the Triangle (which affects who has the ball and who gets assists; Jordan's assists went down the next year under Jackson but that does not mean he was not sharing the ball). Sellers was a backup who averaged 6.9 ppg. The starting players were Pip, Grant, Cartwright, with Vincent and Paxson splitting time at guard. I'd take that roster over Kwame, Odom, Smush and Walton.

Kobe and Nash--and other great players--play alike in the sense that they take what the defense gives them. "Experts" who talk about shooting too much or not shooting enough don't know what they are talking about. Defenses try to stop Kobe from scoring and try to stop Nash from passing. Kobe and Nash have to read what the defense is doing, read what their teammates are doing and try to make the best play. Kobe is a very good passer but if he does not have a teammate in position to make a shot then shooting--even over a double-team--may be the correct play (even if he misses the shot). Similarly, Nash reads the defense and decides whether he should shoot or pass. As I mentioned in my post, Nash is a point guard and Kobe is a shooting guard, so their roles are different but the principle of reading the defense is the same. That is why Nash's comment after Game Three is almost word for word what Kobe has said on many previous occasions.

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 2:03:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

they won 62 twice with nash with kobe they may win 65 games and the championship but kobe better they supposed too david. kobe takes worse shots and make worse desicons slightly than nash thats why they dont play alike. but honestly youre right probably if nash is going to put up as the best he got to get to at least one finals dirk did that kobe been too 4 won3 he had shaq but still he did that nash is going to have too step up and play like a 2 time mvp that he is like game one and two. kobe was not going to sign with the lakers if he knew shaq was coming back everybody know that trust me they coulda signed shaq they was very close but if he was going to sign them kobe wasnt going to la he was going to chicago or the clippers. he made sure shaq was traded before he signed thats why people dislike him lke they do

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 2:11:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

In the preseason before Shaq's final year in L.A. he dunked the ball and screamed at Buss to pay him what he deserved. The Shaq-Buss thing had much more to do with money and Shaq's questionable work habits than it did with Kobe. I've already discussed this here at length in other posts/comments and don't want to rehash the whole thing again. You can search this site for posts about Kobe and Shaq to find more details or else pick up Roland Lazenby's book about the Lakers (Showtime).

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 3:52:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

buss and shaq had problems no doubt about it but buss would of still signed shaq they didnt get along the 8 years before kobe wouldnt of signed there if shaq was coming back period because he wanted to try to define his own legacy he didnt want to be the player who was looked at like scottie pippen where your only great becuase of shaq no matter what kobe and shaq was done if they would of payed shaq or not

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 6:21:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe and Shaq won three titles together and made it to another Finals. So why would you say that Buss and Shaq could get along but Kobe broke up the team? It's Buss' team, not Kobe's, and Buss made his choice. Again, please read Lazenby's book or check back on some of my earlier posts on this subject rather than swallowing the generally accepted--but false--version of events.

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2007 8:37:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

roland lazenby thing is good but the truth is kobe was not going to sign unless he knew shaq was coming back. if buss was to give shaq the contract kobe wouldve went to the bulls or clippers. it had nuthing to do with him not wanting to max 2 players they got 3 rings and 4 finals in five years why would you break that up because you cant pay a player like shaq ive never heard of that in my life he could payed shaq or they woulda eventually agreed to something. you drinking the kobe coolaid well to belive that theory buss didnt want to pay him. shaq in the 03-04 season told kobe he could opt out if he wanted too and thats exactly what he did and also shaq demanded the trade but he was under contract for 1 more year so he couldnt do anything about it. if you think kobe had nithing to do with that your living a dream you like black people who say oj wasnt guilty the police set him up even though im black and lapd is corrupt oj probably killed those people the evidence wa overwhelming just like in this vs kobe

 
At Monday, May 14, 2007 1:06:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jerry Buss has been very consistent that he will not go over the salary cap because he does not have the financial resources that other owners do. So you do the math and tell me how he can pay Shaq 20-30 million a year plus pay Kobe the max plus pay 10 other players and stay under the cap. All you have to do is be familiar with Buss' history, his public comments and Shaq's public comments to him. The "Kobe chased Shaq away" stuff is a bunch of baloney. Did Buss say that? No. Did Kobe say that? No. So where did it come from? Again, read Lazenby's book to find out what really went on with Shaq and Kobe, not just the last year but the whole time that they were together in L.A.

 
At Monday, May 14, 2007 1:42:00 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

To see the way this series is going, it just kills me that Duncan can't have a crack at the league MVP. All-NBA First Team All-NBA Defensive Team, and dominating the playoffs. Here's my solution to the "Dirk Problem".

 
At Monday, May 14, 2007 5:14:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

kobe ran him out for his legacy he wanted to be looked like magic bird and jordan really jordan he thought the only way to do that was to laed teams to championships as the lead guy he knew if he was behind shaq he would never be looked at like that because other than that who's a better guy to have than shaq it would make no sense to let him go and try to find somebody else we seen how thats gone the last 3 years by the way. it makes no sense what your saying fam he's going to let a team that just made the finals and won 3 rings go because of money that he could of payed to try to rebuild. put it like this if kobe didnt opt and phil jackson wasnt moved for a year they wouldnt of traded shaq. they knew if they let phil go shaq would ask to be traded because theres no way they coulda traded him if he didnt ask for it the league woulda killed them worse than they did they tried to fool everybody by saying they didnt want to pay shaq people arent that dumb though

 
At Monday, May 14, 2007 5:31:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The Lakers offered Shaq a deal, but not a max deal for max years, which is what Shaq got in Miami. You don't have your facts straight and are relying on things that have been written and said by people who are pro-Shaq and anti-Kobe.

 
At Monday, May 14, 2007 7:39:00 PM, Blogger alternaviews said...

you want to make every game about Kobe -- as with the Phx game, where nash missed a triple double by 2 boards, getting fouled on almost every drive (no calls)... yet you criticized Nash for his near triple double, b/c he missed 11 shots (fewer than Kobe misses on HIS BEST NIGHT)...

ok, try this one on:
"As Celtics player Don Nelson told the Boston Herald, 'There are two types of superstars. One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was.'"

http://www.nba.com/history/players/russell_bio.html


we both know which category Nash fits into ... the same one with Magic, Russell, etc.

And we both also know about how Kwame & Cook & Sasha & Vlad are all the dregs of the NBA, and Lamar & Luke are barely passable players... and how Smush isnt good enough for JV at any junior high school in America... so which category does that put your hero in?

 
At Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe has three rings, Nash has none...so if Kobe is not with Magic, Russell, et. al then he is a lot closer to them than Nash is.

By the way, Russell played with half a dozen or more Hall of Famers for most of his career. Yes, his presence made them better collectively but do you think that he could turn any of the current Lakers (other than Kobe) even into All-Stars, let alone Hall of Famers? Magic played with Kareem, Worthy, Wilkes, Nixon, Cooper, McAdoo. Again, like Russell, he certainly made them better collectively but to compare that group to this year's Lakers is ridiculous. Nash is running with Amare, Marion, Bell, Barbosa, Diaw. Those are all quality players. Yes, Nash makes them better collectively--but they have yet to win a title together or even make it to the NBA Finals once.

Bottom line: when Kobe was on a championship caliber team, he won three titles and made it to the Finals on another occasion. Nash has been on championship caliber teams for several years now, won two MVPs and not made it to one Finals. Kobe is not on a championship caliber team now, so he and the Lakers cannot be evaluated by that standard. The question is whether or not Kobe is maximizing what he and his team, as it is currently constructed, can do. Watch the Lakers when Kobe isn't in the game and when he is in the game and the answer is pretty obvious.

 
At Tuesday, May 15, 2007 2:14:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

altna views your greatness shows david you dissapoint agian kobe was not the best layer on those championship team he collectively didnt make the team better shaq did. nash stepped up tonight and won he had 24 and 15 there 2 and 2 wonder what you got to say now kobe has not been on a contender since shaq left he the best player but he hasnt elevated anybody anywhere. you based your anaylis on nash in winning but if kobe scores 60 you act like he won another ring it's a double standard your doing kobe hasnt played past may 5th the last 3 years and you act like if he does something individual it's a great thing if nash does something individual he hasnt won a championship yet or finals why is everbody overpraisng him for his games kobe great i love to watch him play but your analysis of him is way over the top you need to base your analysis of him on winning as much as you do individual and do the same for nash

 
At Tuesday, May 15, 2007 6:01:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You have to look at the overall picture. Kobe certainly elevated the Lakers' play during the title runs. To say that all the credit goes to Shaq is foolish. Kobe made the All-NBA First Team, the All-Defensive Team and led the Lakers in assists during the title runs. He often had the ball in his hands in late game situations. Without him, the Lakers win no titles. Shaq's teams have been swept out of more series than any great player in the history of the NBA, so to say that he can win it by himself is nonsense. He needs a top perimeter player (and that top perimeter player needs him). It takes a team to win a title.

In terms of who is the best player, I look at a player's overall game and how complete it is. Kobe's game is more complete than anybody else's--shooting, passing, rebounding, defense, footwork. Kobe is not on a contending team now. Winning a championship is not realistic with that roster. That does not mean that he cannot show himself to be the best player in the league, anyway. Kobe is the league's best scorer and one of its top defensive players. He carried an otherwise subpar team to a playoff berth. I think that when a player does things that have not been done by anyone other than Wilt or MJ that this is pretty extraordinary.

I have not slighted anything that Nash has done. I have simply pointed out that he is on a contending team that has not won anything yet. You have to produce relative to the situation that you are in and this applies even more to Nash because the statistical case for him to be MVP is very weak, as I have documented. Nash has won two MVPs because of his contributions to making the Suns a winning team--but the Suns have not in fact won anything.

To say that Kobe has not elevated the Lakers is ridiculous. Take him off the team and how many games would they win? 20? 25?

 
At Tuesday, May 15, 2007 6:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Alternaviews:

You say that I criticized Nash's near triple double. I don't know why everyone takes so personally anything that is said about Nash. I analyzed Game Three and said that Nash had little impact on the outcome. Is that not true? Duncan controlled the paint at both ends of the court, while Nash shot poorly, turned the ball over and was on the bench when his team played its best. I also said that I don't judge him on one game any more than I judge anyone else on one game. He had a bad game, simple as that--but when Kobe or Dirk has a bad game that supposedly "proves" that they are "selfish" (Kobe) or a "choker" (Dirk). Is it wrong to mention that the reigning two-time MVP had a bad playoff game?

Saying that Nash got fouled on every play is (1) weak and (2) not true. Just because he whined after every play does not mean that he was fouled.

If Kobe shot 6-17 and had five turnovers and was on the bench when his team played its best would you say that was a good night? Just be objective and be honest. Saying that Kobe misses more shots on an average night is irrelevant and misleading; Kobe is a shooting guard who attempts a much higher number of shots than Nash does and typically shoots about .450 from the field, which is a good percentage. Nash shoots less often because he is not his team's primary scorer. You talk about near triple doubles and efficiency but never acknowledge that according to Hollinger, NBA EFF and Roland Rating Nash is not the best or most efficient player in the NBA this year or in any of his MVP years.

 
At Tuesday, May 15, 2007 12:39:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

he didnt elevate the lakers it was shaq team without kobe they were still a sencond or 3rd round team without shaq they like they are now kobe a great player but you make evertything he do amazing if kobe had a championship quality team and didnt win would you crticize like you do nash? no way you would make every excuse why he didnt win if he had micheal jordan and wilt chamberlin on his team youre a kobe praising analysis if you dont like the suns or nash why are you doing commentary on them just like if you dont like kobe why do kobe haters do commentary on him it's unfair on both ends but two wrongs don't make a right

 
At Tuesday, May 15, 2007 4:48:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Marcel:

Name a championship team that only had one key All-Star/All-NBA player. You can't. Championship teams either are built on a two star model or an ensemble cast of many All-Stars ('04 Pistons). So to disparage Kobe's role on three championship teams makes no sense. The fact is, his numbers during those years were better than Nash's numbers during his MVP seasons.

What you wrote simply makes no sense. I am writing commentary about the entire NBA, focusing on the best players and the best teams. I'm not "hating" on one player or "loving" another; I'm applying the same standard across the board. You're completely ignoring the factual points that I make:

1) Nash has won MVPs based on his team's success--but his team has not had "real" success (i.e., winning a title or making it to the Finals).

2) There is little statistical case for Nash to have won either of his MVPs, whether you go by conventional numbers (scoring average, etc.) or the "sabermetric" approach of Hollinger, NBA EFF or Roland Rating.

Instead of just rambling on about my alleged bias, please address those two matters.

 
At Wednesday, May 16, 2007 2:06:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

his team was top 5 and he's a top 5 player thats criteria enough for me kobe had the numbers but his team didnt win and kobe has haters that i think are dumb alot of times but he still has them. nash team has never won the but didnt have stoudamire last year and still got to the conference finals then this unfortunate rule messed them up this year so they never had they full team either. so your basis is off so coe a litle harder next time david

 
At Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:36:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You have a lot of excuses for Nash's failure to win a title but cut Kobe no slack despite the fact that he has virtually no help but has carried the Lakers to the playoffs two years in a row.

The MVP is a regular season award. What matters is how much a player impacted his team's success not how many games his team won. The ceiling for the Lakers is lower than the ceiling for the Mavs or Suns.

 

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