NBA / Sep 10, 2010 / 10:45 am

The Warriors have the next Steve Nash on their roster

Looking back, the depth chart of the 1997-98 Phoenix Suns at the point guard spot was crazy: Jason Kidd (starting), Steve Nash (2nd-year backup) and Kevin Johnson (combo guard near the end of the road). Now, all three have All-NBA credentials and at least arguable Hall of Fame potential, and at some point in their respective careers averaged 10-plus assists per game.

At the time, KJ had already left his mark on the game. And we knew J-Kidd was something special. The biggest surprise of the group was Nash, who would go on to win two league MVPs during his second career stint with the Suns years later.

Looking at today’s NBA teams that have depth at point guard, I’m seeing Jeremy Lin‘s situation appears very similar to where Nash once was.

The Golden State Warriors have a very promising Stephen Curry playing the J-Kidd role, the unquestioned starter at PG who is going to put up impressive numbers across the board. Monta Ellis is the explosive combo guard who can still slide over and play PG, just like Kevin Johnson (albeit just entering his prime). That leaves Lin as the virtual unknown, who is gaining props after the Summer League run he had in Vegas. Just like Nash, Lin didn’t hone his skills at a college basketball powerhouse. Just like Nash, he is a minority in the game who has had to prove himself at every step in the process and plays with a perpetual underdog chip on his shoulder.

Nash is a Santa Clara product, which has as much basketball fame as Lin’s Harvard University. But just like Nash, the former Ivy Leaguer made the most of his small opportunity. Lin’s fearless competitiveness made NBA scouts take notice of the California native. He opened people’s eyes by putting up 16.4 points, 4.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game as a senior. His stats were not too far off from Nash’s senior year stats — 17 points 3.5 rebounds and 6 assists per contest.

Their size and style of play are also fairly similar. Both stand 6-foot-3, both weigh around 200 pounds. Each is a blur in the open court, with great vision and dependable pull-up jumpers. And most of all, both Nash and Lin rarely pick up their dribble, a lost art among point guards. By always keeping his options open with the ball in play, Nash creates extra time and space for himself and for his teammates to get open and get buckets. I think that knack for keeping his dribble is what will translate into Nash-type success for Lin more than anything. Very few players can keep their dribble while under pressure, and those who do increase their chances of being good NBA point guards.

I know it’s insane for me to make such a bold suggestion before Lin has even played an official game. He’s not even a starter. And while Nash was at least a first-round draft pick, Lin’s name wasn’t called on Draft Night. However, to me I just see special intangibles when I watch Jeremy on the floor. If Lin can keep his handle up to par and keep that chip on his shoulder until the right opportunity comes along, the double-doubles are sure to come for this Asian-American sensation.

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  • kwanza

    Great article, and coming from myself who played against Lin in some open gyms, scrimmages and even against his brothers in Palo Alto in the Bay Area, I’m glad to see him progress and stick with hoops.

    One of his most intangible and useful traits in his game is his defense and versatility however. In a warriors system, there’s nothing stopping him from playing the 1-3, and is great with moving his feet one on one and can even block some shots, playing the passing lanes, and playing good off side D getting ready to take the charge. I’ve been impressed with Steph Curry’s D this summer with USA as well. Steph, Monta, DLee…one of the more promising, young trios in a ceiling-less Nellie system.

    Dubs to the playofffssss yeee

  • Brown

    As a Warriors fan, I hope you’re right, and I hope he stays in G-State. I doubt Nelson gives him the PT though. Until Nelson is canned, the Warriors will always be the same old Warriors.

  • Joe’s Momma

    He tore it up in summer league, but that is summer league. Im glad he is getting a shot in the L. Too bad its with Don Nelson though. Unless Nelson develops a crush on Lin like he did Curry, this guy will only see pine time.

  • kwanza

    And hey Dime- I’m actually studying in Granada, Spain for the year. The Spain-Slovenia game is on at my dorm with all these crazy Spaniards, and despite their loss to Serbia Wednesday, Gasol(s), Rudy, Rubio, JC Navarro, Garby, etc jerseys are still ubiquitous around town. It’s a huge basketball city here (73,000 college students!), and I see these jerseys even more than Real Madrid or FC Barcelona ones. The thing is, while the love for the game is amazing here, the same can be said about the street culture.

    There are some eye-popping shoe boutiques around here, including one two steps away from my dorm, and another one I pass by everyday on the way to school. Both of the owners are real down to earth, all about gettin the freshest kicks, gear, and jerseys.

    Any chance I could take some pics and write a little something for you guys for your boutique section? Might be a cool flash of culture in another country that’s also crazy for hoops and the culture that comes along with it.

  • silky

    quite a stretch on this one…

    monta is a 2. lin is a novelty. curry is solid.

    fg- 33%

  • iLL MAGO

    Nelson taught Nash, Nelson taught Curry, and Nelson will hopefully teach this kid the ropes as well.

  • Joe’s Momma

    @ iLL MAGO

    That was when Nelson was still a coach. He is sitting back collecting a check now. His assistants are doing all the work now.

    And Curry came in gunning. Im not sure what he taught him. Why didn’t he teach Monte to play point?

    The writing is on the wall for him. Ending deal, new owners, team sucked the past 3 yrs, he already got his winningest coach title. Nothing more for him to accomplish. He aint winning an NBA title, so that is out of the question.

    Im sorry if that seems harsh, but I never seen a more overrated coach. Winning in regular season, but can’t do squat in the post-season. He is the NBA version of Marty Shottenheimer

  • Brown

    @ Joe’s Mamma

    Don’t apologize for being harsh. Everyone knows Nellie has been mailing it in for a long time. Good coaches teach their players how to play the game to win. Nellie teaches players how to score lots of points and still lose consistently by double-digits. To me, that’s his legacy. He only coaches offense, just like Mike D’Antoni. His win totals should be cut in half, because he’s really only half a coach.

  • Scotty

    actually Lin has a very unreliable jumper. That’s supposedly the biggest weakness in his game. Nash is an infinitely better shooter.

  • fLaVa

    i like the article.. nicely done…

    i am a taiwanese-canadian so i guess the best of both worlds for nash and lin

    GO JLin!

  • Joe’s Momma

    LOL @ Brown

    “half a coach”

    I couldn’t have said it any better.

    I was hoping GS would lose out the rest of their games. At least I can look at Lenny Wilkens and say he was a complete coach. But those Warriors showed a little heart, and got their coach an accolade.

    If summer league is any indication, this kid Lin is a pure pg. If he gets a chance to shine, I hope he snatches it. But Bayless looked like a good pg in summer league too, in the NBA he can’t run point. NBA is a different animal.

  • Patrick

    you would have a better chance with a curry being nash analogy with no jkidd and no kj. I liked seeing Lin play, but this whole concept is laughable.

  • zxcvb

    1) Lin is “like Nash” in his underdog, underrated, small school status.

    2) Lin’s game, however, isn’t at all like Nash. Lin has great potential as a defender (look at his steals, blocks, and the way he D’ed up Wall). Steve Nash is invisible on D. Lin is a slasher; Nash is a shooter. And like most scoring guards, Lin is a bit TO-prone and will never be the playmaker Nash is (will anyone?).

    3) If/when Monta is gone, Lin will be starting PG within a season or two. Curry will move to the 2 where he belongs. Book it.

  • J

    Agreed with Patrick

    I see Curry being similar to Nash more so than Lin. 50/40/90 seems like a possible feat for Curry later on in his career as he starts to slow down and must rely on his basketball IQ similar to Nash to be an efficient offensive player.

    Jeremy Lin strikes me more of a combo guard, or a pg with size and a scoring mentality whichever works. But from what I’ve seen from his summer league clips, he has the ability and size to be a ballhawk coming off the bench and providing a spark offensively and defensively.

  • kwanza

    Lin’s got a really solid midrange and shot well from distance at Harvard. IMO, like he’s doing, making the NBA 3 point shot his concentration for the summer is smart;
    Defenders will have to close out hard on him and he can get to the bucket easier since he doesn’t have any real, developed blow-by one on one moves.

    Besides, everyone knows the best shooters have the longest careers in the L

  • Knicksfan84

    Cocaine is a helluva drug

  • gobigg415

    Steph Curry is the next Nash. There are so many similarities in their games. The fact that D-Antoni in New York, Phoenix, and Don Nelson wanted him the most shows how he fits the Nash PG mold. Jeremy Lin is similar in terms of depth chart, Santa Clara ties and situation in overcoming doubt based on stereotypes – but not very similar at all in their games. Monta is a scoring combo guard and no KG. I’m hoping Lin can become a great spark-plug off the bench for the Dubs creating a nice 3 guard rotation.

  • Anom

    Jeremy Lin has a completely different game from Steve Nash. Jeremy Lin will never intimidate as a scorer or shooter, like Nash does.

    Steve Nash however does not play defense, and this is why his teams typically can not advance all the way in the playoffs. Jeremy Lin might be able to play good defense against both point guards and shooting guards.

    Jeremy Lin could have a good NBA career as a back-up point guard or combo guard who earns 10 to 25 minutes per game. His best case scenario is to have a career like Charlie Ward or Steve Blake. He has to show that he can play defense and consistently hit the open 3.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ anyone busting on Coach Nelson – obviously no older than 18.

    No respect for his CotY awards, for how well he did with the Bucks and Warriors in past decades, for his 50 win seasons in Dallas, or for his historic first round upset of the Mavs a few years ago.

    Shakin’ my head. Yea, he’s a bum, anyone could get all those wins. Maybe you guys, even? Hahaha

    No but really, how is it that guys like Nelson and D’Antoni get busted on for being strong offensive coaches, but coaches that are strong on D and not on O get a free pass?

    You guys need to learn some history.

  • Celts Fan

    @dagwaller – that’s all ollllllld news bro. The Ravens fired a guy that won their only SuperBowl. The Broncos fired Mike Shanahan. NBA teams fire guys that won Coach of the Year all the time. It’s a what have you done for me lately kinda thing in sports, and Nelly runs a team like your drunken uncle you’re afraid to leave alone with your kids.

  • CV

    Hell No! Im a Warriors fan…but, HELL NO! At least not yet. IMO, Lin is a feel good story for the Warriors as they transition in the new ownership and get things together.
    I want to see the Warriors win, but realistically, they are still missing s few pieces.

    D Wright
    D Lee

    Behind that, the second unit is still lacking…

    We´ll see!! Go Warriors!

  • George W Kush Sr

    Y’all reaching again.

    On a side note, while I was reading this article my 4 year old nephew shot a paper ball in the garbage can so I started thinking: my nephew’s human, he breaths air and drinks water, OH MY GOD, MY NEPHEW’S THE NEXT MICHEAL JORDAN!!!!!

  • dagwaller

    @ Celts – I’m not saying that Nelson is the coach for right now. Moreso the people saying that his win totals should be cut in half etc.

  • Yulupan

    Lin isn’t the next Nash, Curry is. Maybe. Lin is the next Ellis.

  • surfnaked

    nice article good job pointing out the similarities

  • warrior fan

    Lin’s basketball IQ is similar to Nask