Sam Cassell is one of those point guards that rarely gets mentioned as one of the best of his era, but you can definitely say he was one of the most successful if you look at his career. In his 15-year-long career that lasted from the mid-’90s all the way to 2008, Cassell had the opportunity to match up against some of the best point guards in the NBA at the time.
During an interview for the Forgotten Seasons podcast, Cassell reflected on his time with the Milwaukee Bucks in the late ’90s, and early 00’s when they were among the best teams in the eastern conference. At the time, Cassell was already an experienced veteran, which was one of the reasons George Karl wanted him on the squad. Cassell talked about his respect for Gary Payton and Rod Strickland as two players he had the most problems with every time he had to face one of them.
For Cassell, Payton was a nightmare on defense, while Strickland gave him many difficulties on offense simply because of his incredible skill set and a repertoire of moves he used to score the basket.
Gary Payton was the one guy that guarded me pretty well, and Rod Strickland was another guy. He would be more of an offensive threat, made me play more defense than offense because I tried to stop him. Them two guys really gave me a lot of problem.Sam Cassell, via Forgotten Seasons
Cassell also shared the names of two other guards that he had problems with during those times of his career, and they are Baron Davis and Nick Van Exel. At the time, Davis was making a name for himself in the NBA, while Nick The Quick was already an established all-star and one of the most exciting point guards in the league.
Baron Davis was a young guy who was 6’4″, 6’5″, fast and big. He had a three-point shot, he had a good drive game, but he didn’t have the mid-range so just trying to figure him out was a task alone. Nick Van Exel is another guy that gave me some problems. He could score the basketball.Sam Cassell, via Forgotten Seasons
Some of these names don’t mean much for the younger NBA fans, but in their prime, they were some of the best point guards in the league. Just like Cassell mentioned, they were all unique and used different ways of dominating the game in their favor. Payton was a defensive mastermind; Rod Strickland had too many moves on offense, Baron Davis was super athletic, while Nick Van Exel was one of the craftiest lefties you’ll ever see.
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