CHANGING OF THE GUARD — comparing Jamal Murray’s game with some of the 1970s legendary combo guards

CHANGING OF THE GUARD — comparing Jamal Murray’s game with some of the 1970s legendary combo guards

Seeing the Nuggets 6’4″ guard perform admirably in the 2020 NBA playoffs made a longtime NBA scout Al Menendez delighted with the level of Jamal Murray‘s overall performance. Throughout 17 postseason games, Blue Arrow has produced averages of 26.6 points, 5.0 boards, 6.5 assists, while shooting 50.5% from the field, and an excellent 47.7% from beyond the three-point arc!

“He can play either position. He’s just a guard. He can run a team, but he shots so well you can’t say ‘I don’t want you to shot.’ He’s a multipurpose guard. He’s like an old-time guard.”

Al Menendez

The 1970s New York Knicks team-concept featured ball movement, player movement, and hitting the open man. The Knicks offensive philosophy was hit the open man and move the ball from side to side. That teams’ backcourt featured guards Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, who were instrumental for that team’s great success, highlighted by winning NBA championship titles in both 1970 and 1973. 

“And that’s all they were – they were the guards. They’ve played both. They played point-guard, could run the team or could score, they could shoot, both could average over 20 points per game. They were just all-purpose guards.”

Al Menendez

During that same era, the mighty Los Angeles Lakers surrounded their dominant big man Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with superb players at both guard positions. Before Magic Johnson-era, the Lakers had outstanding Jerry West and Gail Goodrich doing their magic in the backcourt.

“Gail Goodrich was more of a shooting guard than a point guard, but he could handle the ball and run a team. So, I think that’s where we’re trending now – going back to the time when a guard had to be able to do everything, not be a specialist.” 

Al Menendez

Even before his arrival to NBA, a sensational guard from the University of West Virginia, by the name of Jerry West, showcased his skills on the international stage. On the 1960 USA Olympic team, he teamed-up with versatile Oscar Robertson, forming one of the best guard combinations of all-time!

“Well, who was the point guard on that team? Well, you have to say Oscar was the point-guard because he handled the ball most of the time. But, Jerry had his share of the assists, as same with Lakers.”

Al Menendez

In today’s basketball, the three-point line impact has been tremendous on both the individual and team level. The gravity of the court moved from the paint to the three point arc, and it’s truly a guard-centric league. 

“God help the coach who tries to stop Murray from shooting. That’s what he does best. But he’s a very good passer, and he sees the court very well. Just let him play. He’s phenomenal.”

Al Menendez

The new-age wave of the point guards is led by the Warriors Steph Curry, who revolutionized the game with his unique ability to knock down the big shot at will. All along, he had the green light from his coach Steve Kerr, something Murray also has from Mike Malone.

Basketball Network contributor Murray Crnogaj, the 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist, is the proud co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon.’