Throughout the entirety of the 2011-12 NBA regular season, the rumors were rampant surrounding the potential for the Orlando Magic trading Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets (via ESPN New York). The expected pairing between All-Star point guard Deron Williams and D-12 was met with optimism.
After a tumultuous year in which we were all overwhelmed by speculation, 2012-13 will make it all right in the NBA world. Steve Nash will make Howard forget all about Deron Williams.
Although Williams may be the greater all-around player, Nash is one of the greatest facilitators in NBA history. Even at the age of 38, Nash ranked second in the NBA with an average of 10.7 assists per game during the 2012 season.
There are no limits to the offensive combination of Nash and Howard. Just don't think that everyone shares the excitement.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Williams and Howard appear to have suffered a setback in their personal relationship. This comes as a result of Howard ending up in Los Angeles with Nash instead of Brooklyn with Williams.
Unfortunately for D-Will, D-12 seems unfazed by such a truth.
“It’s my life so if he’s upset because I made a decision for me, so be it,” Howard said. “If he doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over.”
“I’m here now in L.A. there’s no need to talk about what could have happened. I’m happy with being here in L.A.,” Howard said. “The fans have always been great here. Now that I’m on the team the fans, from Day 1, they’ve just been unbelievable to me and to this team.
This all seems rather high school, but we'll run with it.
But Nash Hasn't Played...
The obvious response to this article will be that Steve Nash is presently injured and Deron Williams is averaging 18.4 points and 8.2 assists per game. Truth be told, there is no logical way around the validity of said point.
Which is why I won't debate it.
What should be stated, however, is that Nash is not only legendary for his facilitating, but also his toughness. Such a status provides reason for optimism that Nash will return at full strength and continue to facilitate at an All-Star level.
So we continue.
Nash is Williams' equal in every offensive sense of the word. Although he lacks the defensive ability that Williams has flashed, Nash remains a world-class threat as a scorer and facilitator—a high-caliber player that makes Howard forget Williams' status altogether.
Nash the Superior Shooter
Deron Williams may be the more respected scorer, but Steve Nash is a far superior jump shooter. In fact, Nash is one of the most decorated shooters in the history of the NBA.
A slash line of .491/.428/.904 proves such a truth. Williams' line of .454/.350/.814 is impressive in its own right, but there's a difference between great and elite.
Nash is the latter. He simply opts to facilitate instead of score.
What this provides Howard with is the spread-the-floor shooter at the point that makes the pick-and-roll so dangerous. Nash's ability to pull up for a jump shot is what keeps defenses on their toes, thus forcing the help defender to commit.
This opens the door for Nash to exploit defenses as only he can with thread-the-needle passes.
Furthermore, Nash can drain threes as well as any player ever to grace the league. Nash ranks 10th all-time in terms of three-point field goals and has the highest three-point field-goal percentage of any player to attempt at least 1,700 three-pointers.
Which is quite significant considering he sat at 3,790 entering the 2012-13 season.
One would have a fair argument to state that Nash could give Ray Allen and Reggie Miller a run for their money. But this isn't about legends, it's about All-Stars.
What Nash's ability to shoot the three does is force opposing defenses to hold him accountable at all times. Not only must they be wary of his ability to facilitate, but also Nash's uncanny ability to penetrate and score or step back for a J.
In other words, Nash is equally as unpredictable on offense as Williams. The advantage here is that Nash is a far more reliable threat to score when he puts up a shot, thus forcing interior defenders to close out on the shooter coming off of a screen and enabling Howard to crash the offensive glass uncontested.
The under-reported truth about the NBA's point guard totem pole is that there are two elite pick-and-roll point guards who stand above the rest. Coincidentally, those two are Steve Nash and Deron Williams.
Debating which player is superior is merely a subjective matter.
What this creates for Howard is a reality in which the drop-off from Williams to Nash is non-existent. Nash is a master at working with athletic bigs, as he transformed Amar'e Stoudemire into an All-Star in Phoenix.
Howard just so happens to be the consensus choice for the label of "top pick-and-roll finisher in the game." Just take a moment to dream of the limitless possibilities.
Paired with one another, there is no reason to believe that Howard would have experienced any greater results with Williams than he will with Nash. Each are world-class screen-and-roll facilitators that will maximize Howard's greatest offensive ability.
So what's there to concern yourselves with over choosing Nash over Williams? Each will maximize Howard's most significant offensive strength.
The difference is, Nash knows how to win in the conference he plays in. Game on, Mr. Williams.