The Downbeat #1271 - The "Happy Birthday Steve Nash, John was better" Edition

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Looking at John Stockton and Steve Nash at 40; some of the All-Star Weekend events; who is playing better for our club; and what is Raul Neto eating?

You may have heard that Los Angeles Lakers point guard, and Canadian, Steve Nash just turned 40 years old. Over his 18 year career Nash has won two MVP trophies, been an All-Star eight times, and is known as a deadly shooter. He has played in just 8 games this season; but last night exploded for 19 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. The Lakers also won a game, and a big part of that was Nash's performance. Nash is regarded as a historically great point guard. That's an easy point to argue when you factor in his hardware. But how does he compare to the template that is John Stockton?

Well, both Stockton and Nash joined the league at the age of 22. Both turned 40 during their 18th seasons in the league. John played one more year after that, but let's try to avoid talking about that last season much because we have no clue what Nash will play like next year, if at all. So here is where they  stack up on hardware.

Steve Nash John Stockton
Age 39 - 40 39 - 40 Nash -
Season 18th 18th Stockton
Hall of Fame: 0 0 0
Championships: 0 0 0
NBA Finals: 0 2 -2
MVP: 2 0 2
All-NBA 1st/2nd/3rd: 7 11 -4
All-NBA Defense 1st/2nd: 0 5 -5
All-Star: 8 10 -2
All-Star Game MVP: 0 1 -1
Player of the Month: 3 1 2
Player of the Week: 8 6 2
Led NBA in FT%: 2 0 2
Led NBA in eFG% 1 1 0
Led NBA in TS% 2 3 -1
Led NBA in Total AST: 6 9 -3
Led NBA in APG: 5 9 -4
Led NBA in AST%: 5 14 -9
Led NBA in Total STL: 0 2 -2
Led NBA in SPG: 0 2 -2
Led NBA in STL%: 0 2 -2
Led NBA in OFF RTG: 0 3 -3
Most Games Played: 0 7 -7

Stockton, after his 18th season, did play one more year (and picked up some more hardware by being selected to the Hall of Fame). I am not including things Stockton won in that last year (he did win AST% again, yes, at the age of 41). Also, Nash is a HOFer for sure, so there's no advantage here. John Stockton just plain won more things. Nash shot FTs better and was MVP twice, but other wise it's pretty clear cut. One may be better than the other, but for the most part you could almost call them peers. This is definitely the case when you look at their cumulative career averages:

Steve Nash John Stockton
Age 22 - 40 22 - 41 Nash -
Season All All Stockton
Games 1210 / 1396 1504 / 1526 -11.9%
MPG 31.4 31.8 -0.4
PPG 14.3 13.1 1.2
RPG 3.0 2.7 0.3
APG 8.5 10.5 -2.0
TOPG 2.9 2.8 0.1
A:TO 2.97 3.72 -0.75
SPG 0.7 2.2 -1.5
BPG 0.1 0.2 -0.1
FG% 49.0% 51.5% -2.5%
3PT% 42.8% 38.4% 4.4%
FT% 90.4% 82.6% 7.8%
eFG% 55.6% 54.6% 1.0%
TS% 60.5% 60.8% -0.3%
PER 20.0 21.8 -1.8
USG% 21.0% 18.9% 2.1%
AST% 41.4% 50.2% -8.8%
TOV% 19.4% 20.8% -1.4%
REB% 5.4% 5.0% 0.4%
WS 129.6 207.7 -78.1

Nash and Stock both do things better than the other, but for the most part the things Stockton does better he does WAYS better than Nash. Nash is known as the better shooter, but Stockton has a better career TS% than him. Ooops. The simple maths even point this out, Steve scored one more PPG, but John dished out two more APG. That's a net positive for our guy. The real problems for Nash happen with longevity. These are their averages for their 18th season in the league, when they both turned 40 during the regular season:

Steve Nash John Stockton
Age 39 - 40 39 - 40 Nash -
Season 18th 18th Stockton
Games 8 / 50 82 / 82 -84.0%
MPG 23.5 31.3 -7.8
PPG 8.3 13.4 -5.1
RPG 1.8 3.2 -1.4
APG 5.4 8.2 -2.8
TOPG 2.0 2.5 -0.5
A:TO 2.69 3.24 -0.55
SPG 0.4 1.9 -1.5
BPG 0.1 0.3 -0.2
FG% 34.3% 51.7% -17.4%
3PT% 35.3% 32.1% 3.2%
FT% 87.5% 85.7% 1.8%
eFG% 38.8% 53.4% -14.6%
TS% 44.6% 60.1% -15.5%
PER 10.1 21.9 -11.8
USG% 21.1% 19.8% 1.3%
AST% 35.1% 46.3% -11.2%
TOV% 17.8% 18.5% -0.7%
REB% 3.9% 6.2% -2.3%
WS -0.1 10.7 -10.8

Ouch, Steve. At least you have universal health care, because you are going to need it, you're getting torched.

Stockton was better overall, better cumulatively, and better at advanced age. He doesn't have the two MVP awards, but whatever. I know some of you are going to suggest that there's no point in this comparison because these guys played in different eras. You can argue about that for sure, but they did play one another in real life. John was at the end of his career, and Nash was at his physical peak.

They played in the regular season 22 times, with John's team winning 14-8. They've played in the playoffs once, with Steve's team winning 3-2. (So overall: John winning 16-11, that's pretty close) In the regular season, end of the line Stockton averaged 12.2 ppg, 9.0 apg (2.1 topg), 3.1 rpg, and 1.7 spg. Nash averaged 11.1 ppg, 6.2 apg (3.0 topg), 2.6 rpg, and 0.5 spg. Nash won FT% 92.4% to 86.3%; but John won the rest, 46.6 fg% > 39.7 fg%, and 44.1 3pt% > 39.4 3pt%.

The story was a little different in the playoffs when Nash averaged 18.4 ppg, 6.8 apg, and 3.6 rpg, with 0.6 spg. John only managed 9.8 ppg, 11.4 apg, 5.6 rpg, and 2.0 spg. John's shooting was off (.459, .000, .714) and Nash was around his career average (.446, .379, .920). Nash took advantage of John in that series as best as he could, but John still managed a 10/10/6/2 line. Which is pretty damn good for a 40 year old. And that's the main point. The one thing Nash can't possible be in the same sentance about is playing in games. He's just not as durable. Stockton played in 1504 of a grand total possible 1526 regular season games, and 82/82 in his 18th season. Nash only 1210 of 1396, and so far in his 18th season played in only 8 of the Lakers 50.

Today the NBA is celebrating Nash scoring 19 points at the age of 40. For the record on Stockton's 40th birthday he finished with a 20 / 6 / 4 line while shooting 7/11. On his 41st birthday he missed a double double by 2 points, because he shot only 4 times. Congrats Nash, you are a great point guard. But when compared to the best traditional PG, you are a very distant second at best.

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Speaking of small point guards, Raul Neto is still a thing. So far in Spain this season he is averaging: 8.8 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.7 rpg, 1.1 spg, in 24.7 mpg. He's shooting only .444 / .306 / .667 right now, but I can assume that he looks great doing it.

Raul Neto still also eats weird things. The Question here is what is this thing that he's eating?


So this is that grilled cheese, powdered sugar, and guacamole tart I've been hearing about?

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So Trey Burke has been honored as the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month for December and January. And he has now been selected by former Michigan player Chris Webber to be on his team for the BBVA Rookie/Soph Game. (He re-unites with Tim Hardaway from college and boyhood BFF Jarred Sullinger too) Webber's team has these guys as ball handlers: Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke, and Victor Oladipo. Hardaway can handle it a little bit too. Grant Hill's team only has Damian Lillard, and guys like Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will handle it a little bit. It is possible that a) Lillard will run away with the rookie game MVP because he'll always have the ball in his hands, but also b) his team may lose if he gets tired out.

There is inherent competition on Webber's team for the rock, and guys will have to share ball handling duties. I will argue, however, that the team Trey is on has better finishers. While all we care about is that he has fun, doesn't get injured, and represents the team well -- in our darkest parts of our heart we want him to have a great game. He may be able to pick up assists more easily than if he was on the other team. So maybe it'll all work out.

Whatever he does, just don't do what MarShon Brooks did.


Yikes.

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Karl Malone being at All-Star Weekend is a thing, again. I remember when he was part of some of the crazier events in the past, like Jam Session where you shot on a hoop with a rotating backboard, or 2-ball where he made the WNBA player do all the work. Well, he's on a team with Kevin Durant, and uh, some nice lady (I presume Skylar Diggins is nice).


Is this the case that, well, "Karl already lives in Lousianna, so we won't have to pay for a ticket" thinking by the NBA League Offices in New York? The Selections have no real team structure (like in the old days when you had three people playing for the same franchise, a legend, a current player, and a WNBA player from the same city). If you were a betting man, you'd kind of have to go with former Utah Jazz guard Dell Curry, his son Stephen Curry, and the WNBA lady. Really, I don't know much about the WNBA right now. I used to GO to games with my mom years ago though, I don't know if that counts.

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The Jazz play game #50 tonight. This is the season of development and discovery. This is the season of Dennis Lindsey's "Three Ds" of Defense, Discipline, and Development. So far this season it's been a lot of "L"s though. It's been tough for everyone, but we have a lot of work to do still. Just one simple question . . . who is the Most Improved Player this season for the Jazz?

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