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Nash the link to history's best offenses

Steve Nash is the common thread of two of the best offenses in NBA history. Here's proof.

Updated: April 29, 2005, 5:43 AM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
What do the two best offenses in NBA history have in common?

Here's a hint: He was born in South Africa, raised in Canada, has a $60 million contract, and a $5 haircut.

The man is Steve Nash, the Phoenix Suns' point guard who has become an unlikely MVP candidate by energizing their offense and leading them to this year's best record. Nash could become only the second foreign-born player to win MVP honors, not to mention the first to do it while wearing a Neil Young wig (hey, it's a Canadian thing).

But many might not appreciate just how good the Suns' offense has been, and that this is nothing new for Nash. The Suns' 110.5 points-per-game scoring average towers over the league average of 97.2. But considering the Suns' frenetic pace -- led by Nash, of course -- we should expect his team to play high-scoring games because each team gets more possessions than usual.

One way to more precisely measure teams' offenses is with a statistic called Offensive Efficiency, which tracks how many points a team scores for each 100 possessions it uses.

The Suns are also No. 1 in this category, and their advantage is large. The Suns average 112.1 points per 100 possessions, easily outpacing the second-place Miami Heat's 108.3. Compared to the league average of 103.1, the Suns are well ahead of the curve, topping the average by 9.0 points. Since the average Suns game had nearly 100 possessions for each team (98.1 to be exact), that means their offense provides a mammoth advantage of nearly nine points every night compared to the output from an average team.

And that nine-point edge relative to the league is among the best in "modern" basketball history. Offensive Efficiency stats are only available dating to 1973-74, when the league started keeping track of turnovers. But in the 32 seasons since, only one team has put up a better Offensive Efficiency than this year's Suns.

Believe it or not, it was last year's Mavericks – led by Steve Nash.

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