It’s always fun to compare players whose games are so strikingly similar. Like Kobe and Jordan. You can eat up an entire weekend with your buddies asking things like, Who’s the better shooter? The better penetrator? The better athlete? Who would you rather have taking the last shot? And of course, flat out, who’s the better player? Most people, including myself, still believe it’s Jordan, if only because it’s borderline blasphemous to say otherwise. But nobody can deny that Kobe is as close as we’ve ever seen to Mike. Sometimes, when Kobe goes into that fall-away jumper, when he saunters down the court with that smirk on his face, you’d swear you’re watching Michael’s twin.
And that’s how I feel when I watch Stephen Curry and Steve Nash. Throw a moppy do on Steph and a babyface on Steve and these two are an absolute spitting image of one another. The silky shot with the hair-trigger release. The sixth-sense feel for their surroundings. The creativity and vision and knack for getting space against far quicker players. And more than anything, they both have that thing you can’t define. That thing that makes you feel like every time they have the ball, something good is going to happen.
I’ve felt like this for a while, but after watching these guys go head to head in Phoenix’s victory over the Warriors on Friday (which halted the Suns’ four-game skid and, for the moment, kept their ever-fading playoff hopes at least theoretically alive), I now have an ever grander take on the situation: Not only do I think these two mirror each other, but I think in the end, Stephen Curry has a chance to be even better than Nash has been.
I know that sounds crazy, but think about it: He’s just as good a shooter, if not a better one. In his rookie year Curry averaged better than 18 points a game. Nash has only done that twice in his whole career. Nash piles up more assists, but he plays with better players. And more importantly, he doesn’t play with Monta Ellis. Nash has never had to share the ball with anyone, and therefore, his statistics and overall effect on the game has always been completely maximized. If the Warriors ever get rid of Ellis, the modern-day Allen Iverson, and hand the team completely over to Curry, his numbers are going to go crazy in that system.
Look, I’m as big a fan of Nash as anyone. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer. And at this point trying to compare Curry to him is ridiculous. But I can see the handwriting on the wall. You can’t teach what Curry has. And if the Warriors ever decide to surround him with even half the complimentary parts that Nash has enjoyed during his time in Phoenix (say, with a pick & roll mate like Stoudemire), this kid has a real shot to be a better version of Steve Nash.
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Written by Brad Botkin