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Monday, April 30, 2007

Vinsanity is Back--Plus, Remember When J. Kidd Was the NBA's Best Point Guard? He Still Might Be...

Vince Carter was just plain old "VC" in the first two games of the New Jersey-Toronto series, played in the decidedly unfriendly (at least toward him) confines of the Air Canada Centre--but now that the series has moved to the very friendly confines of Continental Airlines Arena, "Vinsanity" and "Half Man, Half Amazing" have reemerged in full flower. Carter had 37 points on 15-23 shooting in a 102-89 game three win and followed that up with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in just 30 minutes in a 102-81 game four victory on Sunday that put the Nets up three games to one. If the Raptors had kept the game close enough so that Carter had to play 40 or 45 minutes, he might have had 40 points and a triple double--which he actually did against Washington on April 7 in a 120-114 win: 46 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists.

Speaking of that amazing April 7 game, Jason Kidd also had a triple double in that contest: 10 points, 18 assists, 16 rebounds. Kidd and Carter became the first teammates to have a triple double in the same game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. What does that have to do with game four of the Nets-Raptors series? Kidd and Carter had a very realistic shot of becoming the first teammates in postseason history to post triple doubles in the same game. Kidd had 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the first half, while Carter had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Raptors fell behind by as many as 33 points, though, allowing Kidd to shut it down early and rest his sore left knee; Kidd finished with 17 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds.

Kidd has already said that this was the best season of his career, even better than when he was an MVP candidate a few years ago after resurrecting the Nets and leading the team to back to back Finals appearances. He is averaging a triple double for the entire series, a feat that he previously accomplished in the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals. Magic Johnson (four times), Wilt Chamberlain (twice), Oscar Robertson and Fat Lever are the only other players who have ever done this. Kidd is so good that, as TNT's Steve Kerr noted, he is a rare player who can dominate a game without scoring; Marv Albert wryly noted that in one game this year he mentioned on the air that Kidd was only 10 points away from a triple double.

Kidd had microfracture surgery a few years ago and seemed to have disappeared from the roster of the league's elite players, at least in the popular mind. He had a bit of a resurgence last year and this year his game has returned with a vengeance, which just brings to mind again the question that I have posed here, in various forms, for a while: Why has Steve Nash received so much more MVP consideration than Kidd, Stockton, KJ, Price and other great playmaking guards of the past 20 years ever did? I always felt that Kidd, Stockton, KJ and Price were underrated--not that they should have won an MVP in this year or that year, but that they should have received more consideration (Kidd did finish second to Tim Duncan one time). Prior to 2004-05, I actually thought that Nash was underrated as well--but now he's won two MVPs and people just casually throw around the idea that he is the best point guard and best passer ever. Ever?! I think that Nash is great and I actually have thought that a lot longer than most other people have; Nash reminded me of Mark Price back when Nash was getting booed early in his career and not even an All-Star, much less a two-time MVP (by the way, Price is one of the most underrated guards ever, so anyone who thinks that I am "hating"--in the overused word of the month--by comparing Nash to Price just does not get it).

It probably won't happen--for either team--but wouldn't a Kidd-Nash showdown in the NBA Finals be interesting?

posted by David Friedman @ 5:21 PM



At Monday, April 30, 2007 10:42:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

ha ha mark price on steve nash level thats a joke he was know for shooting more than anything he aint messing with steve nash kevin johnson was good not steve nash good and the other guy wasnt bettter either ill give gary payton isiah and j kidd career of course magic and stockton anybody else you on those mike tyson drugs. mark price played with good players just like nash and he never beat jordan or got close to he made a conference final beat an old celtic team in 7 i might add the bulls played with them the next series in 92. nash impact is way more than price and those other guys you talked about i think nah is over praised but dont undermine him please and if you thought he was underated before way are reunderate him when he getting his just do

At Tuesday, May 01, 2007 2:03:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

What does Price not getting past Jordan have to do with anything? Who exactly got past Jordan (and Pippen) once Jordan started winning championships?

YOU may know Price mainly for shooting but he ranked among the league's assists leaders for years.

In '92, Price averaged 17.3 ppg, 7.4 apg, led the league in ft % (.947) and shot .387 from three point range. He made the All-NBA Third Team and led Cleveland to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Bulls in six.

In '93, Price averaged 18.2 ppg, 8.0 apg, led the league in ft% (.948) and shot .416 from three point range. He made the All-NBA First Team and led Cleveland to the Eastern Conference Semfinals, where they got swept by the Bulls.

Prior to that, Price had seasons in which he averaged 19.6 ppg/9.1 apg and 18.9 ppg/8.4 apg. In the latter year he shot .526 from the field, .441 from three point range and .901 from the free throw line. Those numbers are pretty close to Nash's MVP numbers--Price scored a bit more, assisted a bit less and shot just as well.

Yes, Nash's assist totals the past three years are better than those listed above--but I said that Nash reminded me of Price during Nash's first few years. Even with Nash's extra apg the last three years, I don't think that it is so wrong to compare Nash to Price. Maybe you think that Nash is better than Price--but how can you say that he is so much better that the comparison is laughable? Price was an All-NBA guard on multiple occasions. He led a team to the conference finals, where they lost to a great Bulls team; the Dallas team that beat Nash's Suns last year did not win the title and may not make it out of the first round this year.

It's like it has become some kind of crime to even suggest that anyone else is worthy of comparison to Nash. I hate that kind of group think. John Stockton was every bit as good a passer than Nash, if not better, and he was a much, much better defensive player. Magic was much better than Nash in every category except three point shooting and free throw shooting--and he was 6-9, so he could play multiple positions. Nash has won two MVPs and has yet to take a team farther than Price or as far as KJ, Payton and Stockton did.

Nash is great but if anybody is on drugs it is the people who have given him two MVPs--and who want to give him a third while propagating the myth that he is better than Magic Johnson.

At Tuesday, May 01, 2007 11:18:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

mark price is good nash is better period no disrespect but nobody touching nash othan those those five guys i said which kidd was one nash is a better shooter kidd is amazing im a lakers fan the lakers should have traded for kidd because he can change a team like nash. numbers dont tell the whole story for nash his passes are amazing the way he kills defenses and just killed the lakers for example was mind blowing to me i just heartd mike breen say nash in the lane what a pass by steve nash he's amazing player every game 18 and 12 20 16 crazy numbers

At Tuesday, May 01, 2007 3:38:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I don't have a problem with someone saying that Nash is better than Price but the comparison of the two players is hardly laughable. Until two years ago, you could make a strong case that Price was in fact better. Nash has definitely improved past the age of 30, which is unusual for any player, let alone a point guard.


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