When discussing some of the best pure shooters in NBA history, former NBA player Mark Price often gets neglected in these conversations. He was never one of the biggest stars in the NBA, even though the real NBA fans that followed him during that era know how great of a point guard he was in his prime. Price was a four-time All-Star who played most of his career for the Cleveland Cavaliers when the Cavs were one of the best teams in the eastern conference and a legitimate playoff contender.
There is a problem with efficiency in today's game
In a recent episode of his podcast "Mark Price For Three" he talked about the change that happened in the NBA when it comes to shooting, where players, either guards or big men, are shooting more jumpers and three-pointers than ever before in the league's history. Price's main problem with this change in how the game is played is connected with efficiency, where he thinks most of the players and teams, in general, are no longer that concerned about having a well-rounded shooting, but there seems to be a competition on who will fire up more shots per game and if they are lucky to score more points and therefore win the game.
"Efficiency to me has always been an overlooked statistic, and I would put my statistics up with just about anybody. We talked about the 50-40-90 club, and I was close to doing that for my whole career. I was close to being a 50-40-90 club guy for my career, so I always took a lot of pride in my efficiency on the court because I knew I was going to take a fair amount of shots."
Point guards are no longer real floor generals
Price is also critical of the point guard position that, in his mind, has changed for the worst because the point guards are, for the most part, no longer looking to involve their teammates; instead, they look at every opportunity to get more shots up. The responsibility of running the team and getting other players involved decreased over the years, and point guards now have a different role compared to when Price was playing in the NBA.
"Playing in my era, the point guard's job was also to make sure he ran the team and make sure big guys were getting touches inside and running the show. There was a lot more responsibility at the point guard position and how was it played in my era than how the point guard position evolved now into first look. The point guard is coming down the floor, and if nobody is looking at him, he is shooting it, and he is not even thinking about passing it to anybody else. The game has kind of devolved in that way from let's give our big guy a touch first and then kick out, and you got the shot, run the play and play in the flow. It's a different mindset right now and approach to the way the game is being played, and a lot of time, big guys are out there shooting threes today, and that is not something that was done back in my era when we played."
There is a lot of truth to what Price said, and the game definitely changed quite a bit in that regard, whether you think that is good or bad. You could argue that point guards are no longer the floor generals they used to be in the sense of securing shots for their teammates first and then for themselves. Chris Paul, for example, comes to mind as a guard who still does that consistently, while others tend to make shots for themselves rather than their teammates.
The game and the way players are coached changed quite a bit since the time Price was playing, and the league is heavily oriented toward shooting, especially three-pointers. Fans have expressed their disappointment with the quality of the product and which correlates with Price's assessment that players are no longer efficient and tend to take bad shots consistently.
The skillset also changed over the years, and we now live in what some describe as a "positionless era" where every player on the court has to be versatile, and that means that the majority of players now strive to be great outside shooters, even if they are centers or power forwards who previously only resided in the paint. Whether the game changes to what it was in the past remains to be seen, but the reality is that this mindset among players and coaches is more dominant than ever before because those are simply the trends that everyone now adopts within the system.