Once again, my friend Dave, who can't believe he still has to wait more than a week for the first spring training game scores, has dropped a passel of NBAish questions on my doorstep.
Hey, E, are you still on the Steve Nash-for-MVP bandwagon? I know he's having a great year and all, but people are acting like he's the only one responsible for the Suns' turnaround. And you seem to be forgetting that he's putting up his numbers (16.4 ppg, 11.5 apg) in a high-scoring environment (110 ppg for Phoenix). Compare that to, say, LeBron, who is putting up 25.4/7.1/7.7 in a 98-ppg environment.
The short answer is yes.
The Suns' success is a collective endeavor, no doubt, but Amare and Marion aren't creating a whole lot on their own (Amare would be successful as a straight-up post -- he's incredibly quick and strong -- but he wouldn't be this successful). Meanwhile, Nash creates just about everything he gets and he enables them in a big, big way. Which is to say, Nash has a whole lot to do with creating the environment he's playing in. I was in Phoenix in January, and I saw the difference between how this team runs without him and how it runs with him. Night and day.
Now that doesn't mean the dive the Suns took when he was gone proves he's the MVP (as Mike Kurylo over at the indispensable KnickerBlogger.net reminded me this weekend, what really kills the Suns during any stretch without Nash is the fact that they don't have a viable backup point). No, his outstanding overall performance, including 11.5 assists per game, a 51.1 field-goal percentage (from the point, mind you), and 16.4 ppg, for a team that has won 41 games so far, makes him viable.
I'm not saying he's the only choice. LeBron is definitely in the conversation, as are Nowitzki, Duncan, Garnett, Amare, AI, Shaq and Kobe. And my guess is, come the end of the season, several of those guys will be more popular choices. I'm just saying Nash is legit, and as I said before, I like the symbolism in his candidacy.
So I guess that wasn't really the short answer, was it, D? Sorry 'bout that.
I'm assuming you'll be watching the Rockets-Spurs matchup on the worldwide
leader Wednesday night, so here's a TiVo alert: "The Team That Changed The World," a
terrific new documentary on the Harlem Globetrotters debuting tonight at 9
p.m. ET on PBS stations across the country (check local listings).
The film, narrated by former Public Enemy front man Chuck D, focuses on the Globetrotters' role as ambassadors of racial equality in tendentious times at home and abroad, including two groundbreaking head-to-head matches with George Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers and an historic exhibition in Berlin Stadium in 1951. The cast of commentators is impressive -- Barak Obama, John Chaney, Bill Cosby, Rollie Massimino -- but the highlights of the film are the highlights, tremendous game-action clips of Marques Haynes, Goose Tatum, and all the early players. If you've ever seen and loved the Trotters, if you think you know all there is to know about them, tune in. You'll be glad you did.
I remember early this season, when the Bulls started 0-9, you said a few very unkind things about them. What do you have to say now, Mr. Basketball Jones?
Luol Deng is my daddy.
OK, you've had 50 games to evaluate the rooks. Don't tell me who's going to be rookie of the year. Tell me which guy you want for the next decade.
Seriously, 10 years from now he's only 29, and at 19 we're already seeing a complete skill set (top five among rookies in boards, dishes and points). Remember now, he's playing just 28 minutes per night (Okafor plays almost 36). Run his points-per-40 and you get about an 18-point money man, who can run the floor for you and run the floor for you, if you know what I'm saying.
People love Kirk Hinrich, and with good reason, but my guess is we'll be calling the Bulls Luol's team within two years.
We're going to say the Hawks are Josh Smith's team, too, by the way, but nobody's going to care because, you know, they're the Hawks and all.