Let’s Talk Rebounding and the Phoenix Suns
Against the Golden State Warriors in the second-to-last game of the year, Steve Nash was 1 rebound away from a triple-double. Is that an indictment of Amare Stoudemire’s failure to box out or a positive sign of Nash’s increased defensive awareness?
Neither, really. It is Steve Nash having some extra energy. He is no longer the sole playmaker for the Suns. Some offensive pressure has been taken off his shoulders and he is able to spend more energy on the defensive end. It is true. Did anyone watch him guard Tony Parker in the last Suns-Sp*rs match-up? Over the last three years, he was regularly burned, breaking several ankles when Parker crossed-over. Watch closely and you will see that Nash’s defense is better.
Has Nash become quicker in his old age? Is he a craftier defender? Or, does he simply have a little more energy to expend on that end of the court?
Nash is never going to be a great defender, but he can get a helluva lot better. He is better off the ball, too. His greatest weakness is sticking to his mark off the ball. When the guy he is guarding is running off the ball, that takes a good deal of energy. In the past, his man was always open coming off a screen or open for a kick-out. It takes determination to stick to your mark. Nash is getting better at that?
What does this have to do with rebounding? Nothing, except that both have to do with paying attention on the defensive end of the court.
Nash no longer has to carry the team on offense. With The Big Acquisition in the line-up everyone is learning how to hit him in the post. Really, it is not the most difficult thing to do. He seals his man off well and all the passer has to do is hit the big man in rhythm. Not only does Shaq draw attention offensively, he also takes the passing responsibilities away from Nash just because it is so easy to pass to the big man.
Now, back to the rebounds. Nash was always trying to start the break and get the offense moving, trying to get a shot off in seven seconds or less. Now, however, he can get the offense started and get points for his team without exploding down the court. He can hang around to get rebounds. He has more energy on defense. He can do more for his team.
More time. More energy. More rebounds. More wins.