Sam Cassell is a beloved Clipper icon. After leading the best Clippers team of the 2000s and coming back as an assistant coach for the team’s next great era, Cassell has become synonymous with the Clippers franchise.
Cassell made his name as a combo guard back when positions were more defined and that was a trickier proposition. Now, every star guard in the league has elements of point guard and shooting guard in his game, but Cassell was one of the early adopters.
Former Clipper Austin Rivers had Cassell on his podcast, “Go Off” this week, and the whole conversation is worth a listen, particularly the beginning when Rivers and Cassell detail how their relationship blossomed in Los Angeles. Another interesting part was when Rivers asked his former coach to Frankenstein the best possible combo guard. Cassell landed on the shooting range and jersey number/nickname of Gilbert Arenas, who Cassell coached as an assistant for two years in Washington. He explained his rationale as such:
“Gilbert Arenas had the coolest nickname: Agent Zero. I never wore no. 0, but I think wearing no. 0 is saying something, I don’t have a number, I’m unlimited.”
Cassell’s ideal guard would also have the the toughness and defensive tenacity of Gary Payton, the creativity of Kyrie Irving, and the basketball IQ of Stephen Curry. Cassell cited the shot Irving hit to win the 2016 NBA Finals as reason enough to pick Irving and had this to say about Curry:
“You always gotta have a player, somebody, standing next to Steph Curry on the basketball court, if you’re not, you're not a good team. If Steph Curry walks on the court, somebody on the other team has to be next to Steph Curry cuz the guy, his intelligence of the game is crazy, for him not to be that big or strong, he gets it done.”
Rivers countered with a combo guard with the body and frame of Penny Hardaway, the shooting range of Damian Lillard, the athletic ability and tenacity of Russell Westbrook, the IQ of James Harden, the ball-handling of Irving, and his own defense.
It’s a little disappointing neither of them — but particularly Cassell — included any of Lou Williams’ best attributes, like his jumper going left, his clutch gene, his absurd fitness regimen, or his musical talent. As it stands, I think Cassell made a better overall player, with Payton’s defense giving him the edge. Arenas has also become a little underrated because his peak was relatively short and he said and did some questionable things on his way out of the league.
Who do you think won the exercise? What attributes would you use to build the best possible player? Let us know in the comments.
Who made the best combo guard?
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