Would Steve Nash fit in the 2020s?

To answer this question, I turned to NBA 2k20 and simulated his career, starting with the 2019-20 season. I added Steve Nash to the actual 2019 draft class, in order to keep the NBA as close to the actual thing as possible. However, the strangest thing happened in the 2019 offseason before the draft. League owners approved a vote stating “Eliminate the draft lottery and tournament; all picks are determined by team record.” It’s funny that this happened before the first draft because it drastically altered his career.

In 2019, the Phoenix Suns originally owned the 6th overall pick (which they later traded), while the New York Knicks owned the 3rd pick. With the rule changes, the Suns ended up with the 3rd pick, since they had the 3rd worst record the previous season. The Suns were in luck as Steve Nash fell into their hands.

From the 2019-20 season through the 2023-24 season, the trio of Nash, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton went on to make the playoffs each season. Nash made All-Rookie second team, won a Most Improved Player award, and was an All-Star one time in that span. That core also lost in the NBA Finals in the 2021-22 season. 

Booker was replaced after the 2023-24 season by Jason Tatum. Over the three seasons that Nash, Ayton, and Tatum played together, they underachieved in the postseason, as they were the 1-seed in the Western Conference twice in the span, but never even reached the Conference Finals. Nash made two All-Star appearances in that span, and the one year he didn’t he somehow made the All-NBA second team. This really confuses me, as being an All-Star means you’re a top 30 player, but being All-NBA second team means you’re the second best player at your position. I guess he was the second best point guard in the league but wasn’t a top 30 overall player.

The 2027-28 season through the 2030-31 season saw a core trio of Nash, Ayton, and Andrew Wiggins. This team was weird as they lost in the NBA Finals their first season together but then missed the playoffs their next three seasons before Wiggins and Ayton left. Despite this, Nash had a good four years as he made the All-NBA first, second, and third team once each, along with three All-Star appearances. 

The next season, with no other notable current NBA players by Nash’s side, he managed to reach the Western Conference Finals for the third time in his career. However, being 35 years old at the time, Nash started to descend from his prime. The Suns missed the playoffs for each of the next four seasons. 

In the 2036-37 season, Nash went through free agency without finding a home. Early on in the season, he was signed by the Dallas Mavericks where he finished out the season before retiring at the age of 40. Since the jersey number 13 was retired by the Suns in honor of his real-life career, he wore the number 4, which was retired as well.

Steve was a hall of fame inductee, with career averages of 18.4 points and 8.3 assists per game, while shooting 52.1 percent from the field, 44.3 percent from 3, and 86.5 percent from the free-throw line for his career. He was an eight-time All-Star, one-time All-NBA first team member, two-time All-NBA second team member, one-time All-NBA third team member, one-time Most Improved Player award winner, and he made the All-Rookie second team. His 24,582 career points would put him 21st on the all-time scoring list today, while his 11,137 assists would put him at 3rd, which is where he is on the list anyway.

His 18 NBA seasons during the simulation actually matched his 18 NBA seasons in real life. In the simulation, he outperformed his real-life career scoring average but came just short of the assist average. However, he played more games in the simulation so he accumulated more total assists. His field goal percentage and 3-point percentage beat his real-life numbers, but his free throw percentage was a little short of his actual percentage, which ranks second all-time.

Nash was an All-Star eight times in the simulation and in real life. However, in real life he made an All-NBA team seven times rather than the five in the simulation, and he won two MVPs in real-life as well. He was only a two-time member of the 50-40-90 club in the simulation, while he was four times in real life.

His playoff resume was somewhat similar, as in real life he made the Western Conference Finals four times against three times in the simulation. The only difference is that in the simulation he advanced twice to reach the NBA Finals, still unable to receive a ring. 

Overall, he had a better career in the simulation if you look at the numbers alone. On the other hand, he had a better career in real life if you look at the accolades alone. The tie-break should be playoff performance, except it really doesn’t help. In real life, he reached more Western Conference Finals, but in the simulation he reached more NBA Finals, making it a wash. With that said, this simulation proves that he would fit perfectly fine into this coming decade, especially since so many young players modeled their games after him. He would be the perfect point guard for today’s NBA stylistically, and the addition of him as a rookie helped turn the Suns from a perennial bottom-feeder to a perennial contender. 

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