Gary Payton says Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Rockets’ James Harden, Russell Westbrook are not ‘true point guards’
Retired NBA point guard and basketball analyst Gary Payton grew up in the days of the pass-first point guard that looked to serve the table first and foremost before looking for their own shots. This is why it’s no surprise that the former Seattle Supersonics star thought much less of the current breed of superstar guards — particularly the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Houston Rockets’ backcourt mates’ Russell Westbrook and James Harden — in the context of “pure” point guards.
Speaking with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Logan Murdock and Kerith Burke on the Runnin’ Plays Podcast, Payton went into detail why the 3 players are not legitimate playmakers.
“That’s a question that is kind of difficult for old people,” Payton told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Logan Murdock and Kerith Burke on the “Runnin’ Plays Podcast” when asked about the best point guards in today’s game. “You look at Stephen Curry. You put him as a point guard. He’s not a point guard. He’s a two-guard. You look at [Russell] Westbrook. He’s not a point guard. He’s a two-guard. You look at James Harden. He’s not a point guard, he’s a two-guard.
The 51-year-old then name-dropped who he thinks best embodies the position.
“To me, there are only two guards in this league that are true point guards. That’s [Rajon] Rondo and Chris Paul.
“Now, Chris Paul has turned into a shooting guard more, but Rondo is a true point guard,” Payton continued. “He looks first to get people off. He does his defense and he makes people better around him. Not, let me score 30. Not, let me shoot a jump shot first. He’s not doing that … If we name a lot of point guards that’s right now in this NBA, they are not point guards.”
During the Glove’s playing days, point guards that scored more were derisively referred to as “points guards” although the 6-foot-4 defensive specialist was no slouch on offense himself.
Either way, you can chalk this hot take to an outdated mindset that some old heads still cling to in the days of the modern NBA.