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Was Gary Payton right about Rockets’ star Russell Westbrook?

Gary Payton (L) of the Seattle SuperSonics (Photo by JAMES NIELSEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAMES NIELSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Gary Payton (L) of the Seattle SuperSonics (Photo by JAMES NIELSEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAMES NIELSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Gary Payton (L) of the Seattle SuperSonics (Photo by JAMES NIELSEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAMES NIELSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier this season NBA legend Gary Payton had some interesting comments about Houston Rockets’ guard Russell Westbrook and what Payton defines as a true point guard.

Chances are you probably watched the latest episodes of the ESPN docu-series The Last Dance, unless you’re Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. The ESPN-featured film has impressed all of us who have watched and has given a temporary distraction from the NBA’s never-ending hiatus.

The eighth episode ended with the loquacious Gary Payton recalling how he was successful at defending Michael Jordan during the 1996 NBA Finals, which Jordan rebuffed. To this day, Payton still remains one of the greatest defenders at the point guard position and is viewed as one of the best point guards in general.

But earlier in the 2019-20 season, Payton made some rather interesting comments about the Houston Rockets’ backcourt, along with Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Payton joined NBC’s Running Plays’ podcast and stated that neither Harden, Curry, or Westbrook are actual point guards.

“Look at Stephen Curry, you put him as a point guard but 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. There are only two guards in this league that are point guards, and that’s Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul.”

It’s odd that Payton felt the need to make it clear that James Harden isn’t a point guard, because that’s a known fact. Although we’re in an era of position-less basketball, Harden is unequivocally a shooting guard. Stephen Curry is used like a shooting guard, as Golden State’s offense is primarily facilitated through Draymond Green, to allow Curry to be used off-the-ball with backdoor screens.

Next: The difference with Russ

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