Gary Payton vs. Russell Westbrook... and Blake Griffin?
By Jay Cipoletti
The 1999-2000 season was newly honored Hall of Famer Gary Payton's most productive as a pro. The traditional numbers - per game averages of 24.2 points, 8.9 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals - say plenty about his level play that season.
The advanced stats are in agreement. Payton set career high marks in:
- PIE: 16.6%
- PER: 23.6
- Win Shares/48: .195
- Offensive Win Shares: 10.5
Noticeably missing from that list is Defensive Win Shares. His DWS tally of 3.5, while impressive, was well short of his career high 5.6, set in the 1995-96 season. The Glove was a nickname well earned over years of playing lock up D on the best guards of his era, and some of the best of all time. He was described as many things on defense, some of them unprintable here, yet nearly all who played or coached against him would agree The Glove was one of the most physical guards in the game.
That physical play is what stands out in the '99-'00 season. The series of shot charts below show Gary Payton's shot distribution and make rates that year, compared with the current season's shot charts of Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin. Westbrook and Griffin are widely regarded as the most physically gifted in the game today at their respective positions. Looking at their shot charts alongside Gary Payton's should give those who did not see him play an appreciation of why he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
In that 1999-2000 season, Payton took over 40% of his shots within 8 feet of the rim. Westbrook has taken 42% of his shots in the same zone this year, converting them at 52.9%. Gary Payton made 59.6% of his shots within 8 feet. Consider that with only a handful of games to play, Blake Griffin is shooting 65.9% within the 8 foot zone on 624 shots – 52 fewer than Payton in '99-'00.
When you realize that in his prime Gary Payton took, and made shots around the rim more like a power forward than a point guard, you can start to understand the physical nature of his game and why, at 6'4" and 180 pounds, he will be remembered as perhaps the best defensive point guard the League has seen.
Gary Payton Shot Chart - 1999-2000 Season
Gary Payton Shot Distribution - 1999-2000 Season
Russell Westbrook Shot Chart - 2012-2013 Season
Russell Westbrook Shot Distribution - 2012-2013 Season
Blake Griffin Shot Chart - 2012-2013 Season
Blake Griffin Shot Distribution - 2012-2013 Season