Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
There have been many a column written this season about the amazing play of Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash. At 36-years of age, Nash has been putting up numbers that we haven’t seen from anyone since Magic Johnson, and he’s doing it with better efficiency from the field. In fact, Nash is currently on pace to become the first player in NBA History to average 11 assists along with percentages of 51%/43%/94%.
While the praise is certainly well deserved, there is another player that leads the same team Nash did six seasons ago that is also winning the battle against his age.
Also at 36-years of age, Dallas Mavericks’ point guard and ring leader of the Dirkus Circus Jason Kidd is doing spectacular things this season. While he doesn’t have the scoring ability that Nash does or the flashy offensive system that showcases his ability to push the pace, Kidd is averaging a steady 10 points, nine assists, five rebounds and a steal a game.
He doesn’t get the publicity of Nash, which comes partly because he is not the best player on his team¹, so Dirk Nowitzki gets the majority of the attention, and partly because he doesn’t have nearly as attractive of a personality that Nash does. Nash is a fan favorite, a class clown of sorts, a producer, a comedian and, perhaps most importantly, a Canadian. Kidd is a quiet guy that keeps a low key off the court and tries not to stir up much attention around him (This, seemingly, stems from the incident he had with his wife a few years ago when he was with New Jersey).
But don’t let his lack of appeal to a mass audience fool you; Jason Kidd is having a remarkable season.
Offensively, Kidd fits the point guard role perfectly. He’s one of the best passers in the league, but he doesn’t force things. He can find Shawn Marion on a back cut to the rim for an alley-oop, but he also understands when that look would involve more of a risk than simply giving the ball to Dirk and letting him go to work (Which shows he isn’t obsessed with numbers).
On the break, Kidd gets even better. Whether he’s running alongside a teammate or sees Jason Terry leaking out on the opposite baseline, Kidd makes flawless passes that actually creates shots for his teammates because of how well he places the ball. How often do you see someone create a shot for a teammate by solely making a pass? Not often.
Also, when was the last time you saw a 36-year old point guard with more than 43,000 minutes in his career add an offensive element? Well, after shooting in the low 30′s from three in the first 13 years of his career, Kidd has actually turned himself into a top 10 three-point shooter in the entire NBA, sitting .6 percentage points behind Steve Nash. Kidd is shooting 42% from three on the season while Nash is shooting 42.6%. Considering Nash is one of the best long-distance gunners from the point guard spot ever, it is kind of amazing to see Kidd so close to Nash in that category even though he has taken 53 more shots from deep.
Granted, Nash creates his own shot most of the time, so it’s a little more impressive to see him knock it down. However, Kidd has made up for his inability to create his own shot by completely understanding his own offense and knowing that, on whatever play is called, there is a spot on the floor he can be to get an easy look from outside.
The best part about this new wrinkle to his game is that he has actually become a reliable crunch time option. I am sure that Mavericks fans would rather live and die with Dirk and probably feel better about Jason Terry than Kidd, but Jason has been hitting the shots when he gets the ball, and, if he doesn’t get a clean look, he can always find a teammate for a good look.
Defensively, Kidd is still a hassle. He plays the passing lanes tremendously well despite losing a step and maintains a respectable defensive rating of 104 points per 100 possessions. He won’t be able to stop Derrick Rose in a one-on-one situation, but he can outsmart him, and can use his frame to put some pressure on his opponent.
Last night, Kidd added another impressive accolade to his resume in the Mavericks 111-103 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks. Kidd became the first person since himself in 1996 to put up a ridiculous line of: 19 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds. Let that sink in for a moment. 17 assists and 16 rebounds. For a point guard? Only Russell Westbrook has the potential to do that over the next decade and I don’t think he will come close to it.
Kidd has to rank among the top seven all-around point guards in the NBA today. Even though he isn’t as flashy as Chris Paul, Deron Williams or even Steve Nash, his production is just as good, if not better, and it is coming on a Championship caliber team.
(I believe Nash is the best player on the Suns. Go Ahead, argue your case for Amare. Then take a look at Amare’s numbers. His career year of 26 and nine came in ’04-05, the season Nash came over from Dallas. That pick & roll with Nash has made him into an All-Star.).