Steve Nash was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft. Nash played college basketball at Santa Clara University, playing a full four seasons and winning back-to-back conference player of the year awards. As an NBA player, Nash’s career was slow to develop, but it peaked with superstardom and a pair of NBA MVP Awards.
In Steve Nash’s freshman season, he led then #15 seed Santa Clara to an upset victory over #2 seed Arizona, one of only four times that a #15 seed has accomplished the feat. He stayed with the team through his senior season before entering the 1996 NBA Draft. As a mid-first round pick, Nash had a slow start to his NBA career. Playing behind star points guards Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd, Nash got minimal playing time in his rookie year and played a 22-minute per game reserve role in his second season.
After spending the bulk of his first two seasons the Suns’ bench, Nash was included in a postseason trade to the Dallas Mavericks. He stepped in as the starting point guard in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, averaging 7.9 points and 5.5 assists for a young Mavericks team. After a couple of seasons, Steve Nash and teammate Dirk Nowitzki had developed into an excellent guard/forward combo and they carried the Mavs to a their first playoff appearance in over a decade.
Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki became the core of one of the NBA’s best teams. Between the 2000-01 and 2003-04 seasons, they carried Dallas to a 222-106 record. Nash earned spots on two All-Star teams and two All-NBA teams in that time as he had become one of the premier point guards in basketball. In the 2004 offseason, Nash was a free agent. Rather than sticking with Dallas, he returned to the team that originally drafted him and made the biggest leap of his career.
In his return to Phoenix, Nash was joining a team that had just a .354 winning percentage in its previous season. He jolted the Suns with the strongest performance of his career. Nash averaged 15.5 points and a league-leading 11.5 assists per game. The Suns increased their wins total from 29 to 62 and Steve Nash won the 2005 NBA MVP Award. In the playoffs, he averaged 24 points and 11 assists per game to lead the Suns to the conference finals for the first time since 1993.
Nash repeated just about every detail of his 2004-05 season in 2005-06. He increased his scoring average from 15.5 to 18.8 while leading the league in assists and free throw percentage. Nash carried the Suns to another appearance in the conference finals, winning his second straight NBA MVP Award in the process.
Steve Nash is one of only four point guards to ever win an NBA MVP Award and he has done it twice. He has led the NBA in assists four times, in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010. Though primarily heralded for his top-tier playmaking skills, Nash is also among the all-time great shooters in NBA history. He is a career 43.2 percent three point shooter, good for the fifth highest three point percentage in NBA history. His career 90.3 percent free throw shooting is the second best in league history. Through the 2010 season, Nash has tallied 8,397 career assists, ranking eighth.