Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Steve Nash will provide a friendlier face for Kobe Bryant now that the two will be teammates.
Taken two picks apart in the 1996 NBA draft, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will now be teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nash is headed to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns. He’ll be the most statistically notable Lakers point guard since Magic Johnson.
Nash averaged 10.7 assists per game last season. He has led the NBA in total assists in each of the past three seasons, and he holds the three top spots on the list of oldest players to lead the NBA in assists.
No Laker other than Johnson has averaged in double figures per game in assists in any season. Johnson did it nine times.
There are a few lists on which Nash and Johnson share space. The most noteworthy is the leaderboard for most seasons averaging 10 assists per game and shooting at least 50 percent from the field. John Stockton heads the list with eight such seasons, two more than Nash and Johnson.
With 84 more assists, Nash will become the fifth player in NBA history with 10,000 assists. With 225 assists, he'll match Johnson's career assist total.
Nash and Bryant
Nash and Bryant have been longtime rivals. The two went head-to-head in postseason play three times, with Nash’s teams winning two of the three series and 10 of the 18 games. Nash made quite the impression, averaging 18.9 points and 11.6 assists in those games.
Suns With Steve Nash On/Off Court
2011-12 Regular Season
Nash will be the most accomplished playmaking point guard Bryant has ever played with. Only one Lakers point guard has averaged at least seven assists per game since Bryant joined the team: Nick Van Exel in 1996-97 (8.5).
A look at the 2011-12 Suns with and without Nash on the floor shows just how much value he still has. The chart on the right shows the huge differences, particularly in points per 48 minutes and field goal percentage.
Lakers starting point guards last season averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 assists per game. That ranked second-worst and fourth-worst in the NBA, respectively.
Did You Know?
Nash won the MVP award in 2004-05 and 2005-06 with the Suns. He will become the third player in NBA history to play for at least three different franchises during his career and win multiple MVP awards (12 players have won multiple NBA MVP awards).
The other two are Wilt Chamberlain and Moses Malone.