This is an excellent article. I especially loved how they analyzed Nash's impact to the Suns:There is one final factor that might get little discussion, yet to us should be near the top of the list. In making their team a winner, who had the least help? That factor, once included, forces us to our original premise: Lone Star Dirk should be the MVP this year.
In Phoenix, Nash has been complemented by both Stoudemire and Marion - each of whom are so good that some think they rather than Nash should be the MVP for the entire league. Duncan has been accompanied by Ginobili, an all-star and one of the league’s best in every analysis. Shaq also has an all-NBA caliber running mate in the person of Wade.
But Dirk? If you take a poll of fans and media as to the 2nd best player on the Mavs, you will find out quickly that there is no consensus whatsoever. His main help has varied from week to week, and even game to game. There are lots of contributors here and there - a cast of thousands, as the saying goes. But there is no second banana for Dirk to rely on each night.
In former years in Dallas, there was a big 3 of Dirk, Nash, and Finley. This year, Nash is gone and Finley’s game has declined. In spite of that, the team has gotten even better: Dirk has put this team on his back, and overcome those losses. With the loss of Nash, the PGs who are needed to set up Dirk have been inexperienced - so Dirk has fueled the team while they learn. In fact, Dirk only has 2 players alongside him from the Dallas team that went to the Western Conference Finals 2 years ago - and instead of falling to the bottom, they are rising to the top. In Dallas, it isn’t a group of 2 or 3 players that has keyed this team’s ability to win - it is all about Dirk.
Interestingly, the lesser ability of Dirk’s surrounding cast is a concept that is supported by the numbers. Beech’s +/- analysis measures the success of a team without a particular player on the floor, and is often overused. But an interesting number pops out at us. When Nash, Duncan, or Shaq sits, their team still plays about even with the opposition - meaning they would still be around a .500 team without them. When Dirk sits, the Mavs lose almost 10 points per 48 minutes - which would make them one of the worst teams in the league.
What do you all think?In every area of life, myths get spread that are not supported by facts. In voting, perception equals reality. Steve Nash’s MVP support this year will be bolstered by perception that is fueled by myth that has been recited repeatedly in the media.
Nash joined a Suns team that won 29 games last year, a fact that is often cited. The assumption is that Nash made it into a big winner. What is overlooked? Quite a bit.
Last year the Suns actually had a fairly good team - a team that had made the playoffs the prior year and was considered to be up and coming. But they ended up losing a ton of games for several factors. One was the loss of Stoudemire, who was hurt and missed a 1/3 of the season. Even more importantly, they pulled off a midseason trade that junked their season, sending their two primary ball handlers to NY to free up cap room, in exchange for next to nothing. Before Stoudemire’s injury and the trade, the Suns were a talented team, played at a .500 pace, and showed great potential. With first the loss of Stoudemire and then the loss of their ball handlers, their record didn’t reflect their talent.
The return to health this year of Stoudemire, plus the addition of ANY credible ball-handler, was going to make them better no matter what.
Furthermore, Nash was not Phoenix’ only addition in the offseason. The Suns also signed Quentin Richardson in free agency, whose numbers (averages of 15.4 pts, 6.2 rebs, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals) have been as strong as those of Nash this year.
The myth of Nash’s unmatchable value to Phoenix exploded into the media when he was injured in mid-January this year and the Suns lost 4 in a row without him. What is overlooked is that at the time they had also lost their backup PG to injury, so in Nash’s absence they were down to their 3rd option. Also, the games they lost were all against playoff teams, and 3 were on the road.