Steve Nash Was Once Goran Dragic
All-Star Steve Nash Once Had A Career Path That Looks A Lot Like Goran Dragic’s Current One
Steve Nash was once thought to have the same career path now charted for Goran Dragic. Image by Keith Allison
By Bob Goodwood
Special For Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 7, 2011 — There was a time not too long ago when Steve Nash was considered just a ‘good’ NBA player.
Some might have even called him ‘OK.’
What a difference a decade can make.
The year was 2000. Steve Nash was then with the Dallas Mavericks. It was the start of his fifth year in the league and the third year he was the team’s point guard. The former first-round pick of the Phoenix Suns had previous season highs of 9.1 points per game (1997-1998 with the Suns as a backup) and 5.5 assists (1998-1999 with the Mavericks).
But his fifth year in the league would prove to be his coming out party. Behind another ex-Sun, Michael Finley, and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks began their run and Nash led the way with 15.6 points and 7.3 assists per game for the season.
We all know the rest of the story because after the 2000-2001 season, Nash was known as one of the top point guards in the game. But what is relevant is how similar the career path of Goran Dragic and Steve Nash might be. And, it might just make it clear that underestimating Dragic’s potential to become a top flight point guard might be unwise.
The statistics backup the theory. In Nash’s first year, he averaged 3.3 points and 2.1 assists in about 10 minutes per game. Dragic averaged 4.5 points and 2 assists in his first year playing about 13 minutes per game. The second year is again much the same, with Nash averaging 9.1 points and 3.4 assists in about 22 minutes per game and Dragic at 7.9 points and 3 assists in about 19 minutes per game.
The third year for both players — so far, for Dragic — were also similar. Apparent regression. By his third year and a trade to Dallas, Nash was now on the court for more than 32 minutes a night yet he only averaged 7.8 points and 5.5 assists a game. Dragic, with his minutes staying flat from year two at about 18, is averaging about 7 points and 3.2 assists.
These are pedestrian numbers folks, for both guys.
The similarities don't end at the stats. Nash and Dragic were also both drafted with the label ‘point guard of the future.’ Less than one-half a year into Nash’s reign, the Suns pulled the plug and got Jason Kidd from the Mavericks to replace the soon-to-be retiring Kevin Johnson. Dragic, likewise, was drafted as Nash’s heir-apparent. Soon after he made his debut, critics and prognosticators dubbed him a good but not great talent.
All-in-all, a pretty similar career path. But where the pre-millennial Suns traded away Nash’s potential, these Suns are holding on to Dragic for now, even though the talking heads think Dragic is a wasted endeavor going forward.
The bottom line is that it took Nash five years to become the Master Jedi. Goran will probably need at least that.