If the NBA’s Most Underrated Point Guard of the 1990s were to enter the league today, he would be a dominant force.
Isiah Thomas is a former NBA point guard who played for the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and Indiana Pacers. In his prime, he was considered to be one of the best players in the league. However, many people consider him to be underrated. He has made this claim because he believes that during today’s era, the modern era, an undervalued point guard would dominate.
When most NBA fans think of the best point guards from the late 1980s and early 1990s, they usually think of Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers or Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons. However, there were many outstanding guards in that period, including one who Thomas thinks would thrive in today’s game.
Mark Price, the former Cleveland Cavaliers point player, was not very showy. But, according to Thomas, he was one of the greatest shooters at the position and possessed a level of anticipation in the pick-and-roll that would have made him a true star in today’s NBA.
Mark Price, a former Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star, played in the wrong era, according to Isiah Thomas.
Isiah Thomas and Mark Price each played under a separate set of NBA regulations. Hand-checking was legal during their time, and defenders employed it as a physical technique to stifle ball-handlers’ progress.
Thomas’ Pistons teams attempted to use hand-checking as a weapon against Michael Jordan in order to slow him down until defense came. If Zeke and Price aren’t pushed into turnovers, bigger defenders may put pressure on them to make fast choices or give up the ball.
However, the game has evolved significantly.
In today’s NBA, the absence of hand-checking has allowed even undersized guards like Stephen Curry and Trae Young to take use of their ball-handling skills and generate space. In addition, the focus on three-point shooting has shifted, making scoring guards more important than ever.
Thomas thinks that a player like Mark Price would struggle in today’s NBA. He’d be unstoppable.
“Mark Price would be one of the most dominating players in this period if he played in today’s #NBA with these rules!”
–2019, through Twitter, Isiah Thomas
Price lacked the explosive athleticism of today’s point guards. He did, however, have excellent shooting ability and basketball IQ, as well as remarkable shiftiness, particularly in pick-and-roll setups.
But who precisely was Price? He is, without a doubt, one of the most underappreciated NBA point guards of his time.
Price was named to four All-NBA teams and became the NBA’s second 50-40-90 player.
During the 1988-89 season, Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons won their first championship, but point guard Mark Price of the Cleveland Cavaliers created history of his own.
Price joined Boston Celtics icon Larry Bird as the only players in NBA history to shoot at least 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc, and 90% from the free-throw line at the same time. On his way to his first All-Star selection, he averaged 18.9 points, 8.4 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game. It marked the start of a run of fantastic seasons.
Between 1989 and 1994, the former Georgia Tech player was named to four NBA All-Star teams. Despite playing under 30 minutes per game, he was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1992-93, averaging 18.2 points, 8.0 assists, and 2.7 rebounds. Price averaged 17.6 points, 7.8 assists, and 2.7 rebounds a game from 1988 to 1995, shooting over 48 percent from the field and better than 41 percent from outside the arc.
Price wasn’t simply a sharpshooter on the other side of the arc. When opponents came to trap him in pick-and-roll, he virtually created the “split.” He’d get into the lane with a fast dribble or cross between defenders, then finish with a variety of floaters and runners. Price could also kick to shooters and split doubles. Given today’s game’s spacing, he would definitely be a top assist guy if surrounded by the right people.
In today’s NBA, Price’s mix of shooting skill, savviness, and speed would have made him a difficult opponent. What about Thomas, for example? Is he still as powerful now as he was in the 1980s and early 1990s?
In today’s NBA, how would Isiah Thomas fare?
Both photos courtesy of Focus on Sport/Getty Images. Isiah Thomas (L) and Mark Price (R)
During his 13-year tenure with the Pistons, Isiah Thomas, unlike Mark Price, never had much success shooting from the outside. For his career, he shot 29 percent from beyond the arc on 1.4 attempts per game. Even so, it’s fair to think Zeke would do well in today’s game.
To begin with, it’s hard to picture Thomas not working on his sweater. Furthermore, Thomas’ ball-handling and slicing skills would transfer well today, maybe even more so without the need of hand-checking. To that point, Thomas seems to be a natural fit for isolation setups, which are prevalent in today’s NBA.
The answers to these hypotheticals will never be known to basketball fans. However, they may be entertaining to contemplate, and it’s fascinating to speculate about how a player like Mark Price could have performed better in a different age.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
Isiah Thomas begged to guard a top scorer rather than a journeyman player because he couldn’t defend the ‘Crooked Leg’ move.
- isiah thomas commercials
- isiah thomas career highlights
- isiah thomas high school highlights