Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60 through ’65-66) and Michael Jordan (’86-87 through ’92-93) each led the league in scoring for seven straight seasons.
But those runs at the top of the league aren’t as impressive as the run that Steve Nash had been on.
For nine straight seasons — three in Dallas and six in Phoenix — Nash has led the No. 1 offense in the league. Even in 2005-06, when Amar’e Stoudemire missed 79 games, the Suns ranked first in offensive efficiency. And even in 2008-09, when the Suns’ offense was supposedly bogged down by Shaquille O’Neal, they ranked No. 1 in offensive efficiency.
This season, though, Nash’s run at the top of the offensive rankings has come to an end. With one game to play, the Suns rank ninth offensively, scoring 107.0 points per 100 possessions. This season’s No. 1 offense will either be the San Antonio Spurs (109.55 through Monday) or the Denver Nuggets (109.52).
But instead of lamenting how the Suns have fallen off this season, we’d rather marvel at how remarkable Nash’s last nine seasons were.
The run began in Nash’s second season as the full-time starter in Dallas. Nash has not only led the No. 1 offensive team each season, but he’s led the five best offenses of the last 20 years (when you compare the team’s efficiency with the league average).
Steve Nash’s team offensive efficiency, seasons as a full-time starter
|Season||Team||Off. Eff.||Rank||Lg. Eff.||Diff.||L20 Rank|
Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Lg. Eff. = League average
Diff. = Difference between team efficiency and league average
L20 Rank = Rank over last 20 seasons (since 1991-92)
This season’s fall-off isn’t exactly Nash’s fault. His individual numbers are down, but just slightly. The Suns are still a great offensive team (better than the Spurs and Nuggets) with Nash on the floor, scoring 111.1 points per 100 possessions in his 2,465 minutes.
The problem is that the Suns’ offense has been pretty awful when Nash has been off the floor, scoring just 99.9 points per 100 possessions. That’s equivalent to the fourth-worst offense in the league.
Last season, the Suns scored 115.0 points per 100 possessions with Nash on the floor and 107.8 with him on the bench. There was a drop-off, but their second unit was still pretty potent.