People always ask what we at Suns.com do during the summer when the team isn’t playing. As much as I would like to tell them about the Monday afternoon movie and the hopscotch tournaments, I usually just reply “rookie stuff.”
There isn’t a rookie guard out there who wouldn’t love the opportunity to pick Steve Nash’s brain.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)
“Rookie stuff” began today at the US Airways Center as NBA hopefuls worked out for Mike D’Antoni and the coaching staff, new general manager Steve Kerr and a host of other front office employees.
I had the opportunity to speak with each of the four young candidates who put forth their efforts (a task which made me feel incredibly old), and saw the glimmer in their eyes when I mentioned the possibility of running with this Suns team. It’s a style anybody in good shape would love to play, particularly young guards such as USC’s Gabe Pruitt and Nevada’s Ramon Sessions. When I asked Sessions how he would feel about picking Steve Nash’s brain, the 20-year-old replied, “To learn from him would be learning from the best.”
Sure it’s a lot easier to dream of being the first overall pick in the NBA Draft when you’re a kid, but you’ve got to admit, going number 24 certainly has its advantages. Unlike the team picking in the one slot, you’re most likely going to a title contender. And odds are the team picking first overall in the draft doesn’t have a player of Steve Nash’s caliber to learn from.
The best part of day one workouts was no doubt when Boris Diaw made his way onto the practice court just after things had finished up. “Am I too late to try out?,” he asked with a smile. Diaw wasn’t trying out of course. By the looks of it, he was there to get in a little bit of summer practice which is always good to see from players. It’s easy – especially at the beginning of summer – to procrastinate working on your game. Diaw has apparently wasted little time in showing how dedicated he is to returning to the form which helped him win Most Improved Player honors in 2006.
IT’S GOOD TO BE KING
I’ve made a lot of changes in my way of living these past several months, among them a personal promise to stop being so thick-headed all the time. That decision certainly paid off during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Tired of keeping my arms folded and pouting about how I didn’t want to watch the Playoffs anymore, I kicked back and watched Cleveland’s LeBron James put on an unbelievable show in Detroit.
From about the eight-minute mark in the fourth quarter through both overtime sessions, no player other than James hit a field goal for Cleveland. You see a statistic like that and think, “No way were the Cavs able to beat the Pistons.” But that’s just how good King James was on that night, finishing with 48 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
It was an MVP-type performance and definitely raised an interesting question as to why James wasn’t more seriously considered for the award. I’ve said all along and I truly believe that Steve Nash was the 2006-2007 NBA MVP. At the same time, I didn’t disapprove of Dirk Nowitzki taking home the honor. I didn’t buy into the, “But his team got kicked out of the first round” philosophy because to have done so would’ve been hypocritical. I didn’t like people not voting for Nash because he had yet to win a Championship because postseason accolades aren’t supposed to affect voting. Many felt the same way but quickly changed their tune after seeing the Dallas Mavericks eliminated in the opening round by the Golden State Warriors.
While I had no problem with Nowitzki winning the award – his numbers were spectacular – I will always have a problem with why I believe he won the award. With statistics as close as he and Steve’s were, I believe voters used Dallas’ 67-win season as an unofficial tie breaker.
If you’re undecided between two MVP candidates, how in the world do you base your vote on the fact one player won six more games during the regular season? For starters, Nash missed that precise number of games for Phoenix (the Suns going 2-4 in the process). Were the award called “the best player on the team that finished the season with the best record”, Nowitzki would be the winner hands down (the award would also have to be much large to fit all that on it). But the award is Most Valuable Player and I don’t believe because one player wins more games with his team than another, the interpretation should be that he is therefore more valuable.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won 50 games during the regular season. Not a win total to sneeze at, but it was only good enough for second place in an Eastern Conference Division. But while 50 wins may not earn you any number one seeds, can you imagine where this team would’ve finished without James running the show?
LeBron James was hailed the “next Michael Jordan” when he made the jump from high school just a few years ago. Strange that I couldn’t help but wonder during rookie workouts today, “Maybe one of these guys could end up being the next LeBron James.”