The NBA game is different then when Gary Payton was a lock down defender on his way to a Hall of Fame career — in 2000 the NBA took away hand checking and any contact on the perimeter, a year later zone defenses were permitted again in the NBA. Payton told us at PBT earlier this year he’s not sure how he could defend in this era.
The rule changes led to a new kind of attacking, scoring point guard that could be the focal point of the offense. Think Derrick Rose in Chicago or Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City — if you can’t put a hand on them you can’t really stop them without help coming from somewhere. We’ve seen a rise in these kinds of attacking, scoring guards as players adapt to the rules.
Which makes some people long for the old days, the traditional pass-first point guard. You know, “real” point guards.
Payton is one of those. While this is a couple weeks old from the Republican in Massachusetts, Payton said before going in the Hall of Fame there are really only three point guards in the league now.
“We don’t really have point guards in the NBA now. We really have (shooting) guards – and that’s a fact,” Payton said. “I think there’s only three true point guards that play like point guards. I think Chris Paul is one, I think (Rajon) Rondo is one, and I think Tony Parker is the other.”
Thing is, tony Parker came into the league as a score-first guy who developed more of an all around game.
Personally, if you want pass first guys I’d throw Steve Nash and Ricky Rubio in the mix. If you want guys who could both pass and score like Payton could there is Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson, Raymond Felton and others.
Players adapt to the rules and the NBA altered the rules to make it easier for slashing point guards and guys on the wing to score. You can be nostalgic for the “good ol’ days” all you want, the fact is if Gary Payton were coming out of Oregon State today is game would probably look a lot more like Irving’s. He would have adapted, like all the greats.