Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are two of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. They both emerged as stars of the 00’s as the league transitioned into the post-Jordan era and while they both had very different styles of play their careers followed a relatively similar path. In fact, the two of them were teammates early on in their careers for two years at Phoenix. Which of the two legends had the better NBA career though? The debate is broken down into six categories: postseason success, offensive talent, defensive talent, best moment, awards and influence.
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FAMOUSLY Steve Nash never made it past the Western Conference Finals, despite playing on some pretty good Suns teams from ’05-’09. Kidd, however, made the Finals in back-to-back years in ’02 & ’03 with a crumby Nets supporting cast and claimed a championship with Dallas as their starting PG in ’11. Kidd did make the playoffs in 17 of his 19 seasons too, while Nash only managed 12 out of 18.
NASH easily wins here, his offensive game is almost unparalleled when comparing him to other point guards. He compiled four 50/40/90 seasons (50% from the field, 40% from 3 and 90% from the free throw line) and was an elite three-point shooter throughout his entire career. Kidd averaged under 35% from deep for his career and shot 40% from the field. While he was arguably a better ‘point guard’ in the dictionary definition of the positions, he can’t compete with the shooting prowess of the Canadian.
MUCH like Nash’s offensive dominance, this isn’t even a discussion as Kidd easily comes out on top here. He made four All-Defensive 1st teams and finished in the All-Defensive teams nine times over his career. Nash didn’t appear once. Kidd ranks 2nd all-time for career steals with over 2,600. Nash didn’t record 900 total.
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KIDD – Jason Kidd’s best moment came against Boston in the 2002 East Finals. With a maiden NBA Finals berth on the line, Kidd averaged a commanding triple-double (17.5pts/11.2rebs/10.2asts) throughout the six-game series, including 15/13/13 in the closeout Game 6, leading the Nets to victory. Kidd played to his strengths and led the Nets to their first NBA Finals past a talented Celtics team.
NASH – While the most iconic moment for Steve Nash came in Game 1 of the ’07 West Semis when Nash played through a bloody disfigured nose against the Spurs, that wasn’t his best moment. That came against Dallas in ’05 when Nash burned the Mavericks in the Western Semi-Finals. He had a career-high 48 points in a Game 4 win, followed it up with a Game 5 triple-double (34pts/13rebs/12asts) and then hit a game-tying three to force OT in Game 6, where he finished the Mavs off with 39 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.
Edge: Nash. Just.
THERE is very little argument that can be made against Nash and his two Most Valuable Player awards. Kidd finished 2nd in MVP voting to Duncan in 2002 as his highest finish. He did however, share Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill in 1995. They both led the league in assists per game five times and shared a similar number of All-Star appearances (Kidd: 10, Nash: 8) and All-NBA team selections (Kidd: 6, Nash: 7). Unfortunately for Kidd, the back-to-back MVP’s in ’05 & ’06 makes it impossible to mount a case against Steve Nash.
IT’S hard to encompass how much of an impact both players had in the league with both having long successful careers and multiple teammates raving about their leadership and work ethic. Kidd, however, is heralded as one of the greatest floor generals ever, while Nash is more of a flashy passer and dominant scorer. It’s tough to split the two in that regard, pick your poison. When talking about the influence they had on the game of basketball, you could argue that Steve Nash changed the way the point guard position was played with his hooting, but Kidd did that with his overall dominance on both sides of the ball. Sure he wasn’t a great shooter, but he still scored and developed a jump shot later in his career and on the defensive side of the ball he was a nightmare for opposing point guards. Both have had a profound impact on the game of basketball, but Kidd’s accomplishments slightly outweigh those of Nash.
Edge: Kidd. Just
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VERDICT – JASON KIDD
A 3-3 tie between these two is fitting because they are almost impossible to split. Offensively and defensively we have clear winners, with both players elevating their games to another gear during the postseason. While Kidd’s ring in ’11 does give him a slight edge Nash did also claim dual MVP’s, and both experienced long successful careers in the league. At the end of the day though I feel you have to give Jason Kidd the slight edge for having more postseason success. You can attribute his championship to hitching a ride on Dirk Nowitzki’s coattails, but Kidd led two average Nets teams to back to back finals and Nash never made an NBA Finals appearance. Steve Nash was the leagues Steph Curry before there was a Steph Curry and will go down in history as a top point guard, but Jason Kidd’s overall game and successes make up for his poor jump shot giving him the win.
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