RJ Barrett is expected to be selected within the top three picks of the NBA Draft on Thursday night, and one of the people who will be cheering loudest for the Duke prospect is former MVP, Steve Nash.
Nash won a pair of MVPs in his career playing with the Phoenix Suns and the point guard built himself a Hall of Fame resume throughout his 18 years in the league.
Barrett has been a highly-touted prospect since his early teens, and while he was overshadowed at Duke by the human highlight reel Zion Williamson, the 6-foot-7 guard is expected to fit right in at the next level. He averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists during his freshman year with the Blue Devils.
So why is Nash throwing his weight behind his fellow Canadian hooper? Nash is Barrett’s godfather and has watched Barrett grow up around the game of basketball.
Nash was good friends with Barrett’s dad, Rowan, who played with Nash on the 2000 Canadian Olympic team in Sydney, Australia.
“He’s becoming an adult before our eyes,” Nash told Sports Illustrated. “With all he’s gone through and what’s been thrown at him—as a human, it’s awesome to see him grow. As a basketball player, that’s just been out of this world.”
Why is Steve Nash RJ Barrett’s Godfather?
Rowan Barrett was welcoming to a young Nash during his time with the national team, something the future MVP would never forget.
“He made me feel at home,” Nash told SI. “And comfortable with a bunch of guys I’d never met before.”
Rowan Barrett reportedly asked Nash to be RJ’s godfather after he bought the family a crib and was in the prime of his NBA career at 26 years old.
“I do remember being asked to be [his] godfather, but the memory is kind of vague now. But obviously, I was thrilled,” Nash told The Undefeated. “At the time, we were still relatively young. So to be asked that at that age was like, ‘Holy s—! It is getting real out here.’ Obviously, you’re thrilled. I love kids.”
Nash — who was taken 15th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft — has not been shy about heaping praise on Barrett in advance of the draft, understanding that at just 18, the Duke star still has plenty of growing to do both physically and mentally within the game.
“It’s amazing now to look back on it,” Nash told The Undefeated. “It’s like news. You can never predict anyone would have the trajectory he has had. It is kind of bizarre.”
What does Steve Nash think of RJ Barrett as a Prospect?
What has Nash really excited is Barrett’s playmaking ability — something that made Nash a fixture on NBA All-Star teams in the early 2000s.
“He’s a guy in today’s NBA who can make plays for his teammates and be so potent flashing to the basket and creating shots for himself,” Nash said. Those players are so valuable. They can play multiple positions, and eventually I project that he’ll guard multiple positions. It just takes time.”
Nash has reportedly trained Barrett for the next level while doing work with the Canadian national team. But it’s been his mentoring off the court that has been the biggest boon for Barrett.
“Steve is a better person than he was a basketball player,” Rowan told ESPN.
Follow the Heavy NBA Facebook page for all the latest stories, rumors and viral content!