How many “real” point guards are there in the NBA? Gary Payton says three.

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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.

Anthony Davis challenging Michael Jordan as best opening-game player on record

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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Anthony Davis called himself the NBA’s best player.

He sure backed it up last night.

Davis posted a 32-16-8-3-3 to lead the Pelicans to a 19-point win over the Rockets, considered by many to be the NBA’s second-best team. The performance immediately vaults Davis to the forefront of any MVP discussions.

But for him, it was just par for the course. Davis has repeatedly dazzled in season openers. When 18-6-2-3 qualifies as the dud, you know Davis is doing something right.

Davis’ box scores in New Orleans’ first game each season:

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That makes Davis’ average season-opener game score 24.1, one of the best ever. Only Michael Jordan has a higher mark on record (since 1983, as far back as Basketball-Reference records go; minimum: three games).

Here are the leaders:

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Obviously, Davis cares more about how he finishes than starts. The Pelicans have made the playoffs only twice with him, getting swept in the first round in 2015 and falling in the second round last season.

But it should be clear by now: Davis comes to play as soon as the season tips.

PBT Extra: Boston can be team to dethrone Golden State Warriors

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I’ve heard it from friends. I’ve seen it on NBA Twitter. I’ve debated it with sports talk radio hosts.

“This NBA season is already decided, nobody has a chance against the Warriors.”

Not true.

Boston has a shot, as I get into in this PBT Extra.

Absolutely the Warriors are the odds-on favorites to win it all, if healthy they should three-peat. They were my pick. But I believe Boston has a legitimate shot to dethrone the Warriors — they have the wing athletes, the switchability on defense, the scoring, the versatility. A Boston/Golden State Finals is going six or seven games… if we get there. It’s just day two of a long season.

But I believe in Boston.

 

Boban Marjanovic dunks so hard (with his feet touching floor!), rim must be checked for levelness (video)

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The Nuggets had no answer for Boban Marjanovic.

Neither did L.A.’s rims.

The 7-foot-3, 290-pound Clippers center scored 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds in 18 minutes. The Clippers outscored Denver by seven with Marjanovic on the floor, but got outscored by 16 otherwise in a 107-98 loss last night.

Marjanovic just doesn’t have the stamina to play huge minutes, though he caught an extra breather when officials stopped the game to check the levelness of a rim Marjanovic dunked on – with his feet still on the ground. Incredible!