Wednesday, September 3, 2008

With Nash on bench, Suns lose identity

I see where the Suns are planning to cut back on the minutes Steve Nash gets this season to help keep him fresh for PHX's postseason push.

Nash, who turns 35 in February, has played in 75 games or more each of the last seven seasons. The 2,780 minutes he logged last season were the second-most of his career.

Nash played 34.3 MPG in 2007-08, two minutes less than 35-year-old PG Jason Kidd, who spent the summer as the starting PG for Team USA.

Speaking of the postseason, as you'd expect, Nash's minutes increase during the playoffs. In 2006 postseason, for example, he logged 40 MPG (five minutes more than in the regular season), third-most among point guards, but still slightly less than Kidd, though Kidd played about half as many playoff games.

Similarly, in the 2005 playoffs, Nash saw more than 40 MPG in 15 games (up six minutes from the regular season). Kidd, on the other hand, averaged 45.5 MPG in four games for the Nets, the most of any PG that postseason.

The comparison I've seen is the Spurs, which have rested Duncan during the regular season. But while the Spurs are a somewhat different team with Duncan on the bench, they have the same team identity and system. They can plug in a reserve and continue on, albeit at a lower level.

That's not the case when Nash is out of the game for PHX. He gives the Suns their identity.

The Suns are a team in transition, one that's trying to be come a better defensive unit. They have different personnel this season than in previous years. The Suns are significantly better with Nash on the floor.

As for Nash, here's what he had to say about the proposed plan:

“I feel like you can always use the rest. If you can get to the postseason well rested, it’s perfect. But you can’t always afford to do that. I’m willing to do it either way. Whatever makes us play as well as we can and makes me feel as good as I can going into the playoffs.”

When asked whether the Suns good enough to rest him for 10-12 games, Nash replied: "I don’t know. Probably not."