Katelyn E. Clooney
Well, I am not one to open old wounds. However, I am a huge supporter of “putting your money where your mouth is.” So, this week, I am going to revisit a debate we saw stir prior to the season’s tipoff.
Whether he meant to, or not, John Wall caused quite a commotion during Washington’s Media Day in September. The Wizards guard proclaimed that he and Bradley Beal were “definitely the best backcourt in the league.” Many people disagreed, including the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dion Waiters, who described Wall’s thoughts as “nonsense.” Stephen Curry then threw his hat in the ring, saying that his Golden State Warriors had the best backcourt in the Association.
Actually, two of the men are right.
With every team in the NBA having played a dozen or so games, the committee (of one) feels that the debate is starting to settle. We (I) present to you – The Top Five Backcourts in the NBA:
5. Memphis Grizzlies: I am a huge fan of the Memphis Grizzlies. While I do not claim them as “my team,” this Grizzlies squad is certainly my favorite to watch on League Pass (other than my Cavs, of course). While they do not put up sexy numbers or make sexy plays, they win. Moreover, they win as a team. While the Grizzlies do have great post guys, point guard, Mike Conley, is the undeniable leader of this team on the court, and has developed into one of the best floor generals in the league. He is averaging just under 17 PPG, has been consistent in assisting and, most-overlooked, plays extremely well off-the-ball. Courtney Lee, who was acquired mid-season last year, is also averaging nearly 15 PPG. While Coach Joerger has toyed with a three-forward lineup, Lee, is producing consistently and coming through in the clutch. Just ask the Sacramento Kings.
4. Houston Rockets: Like Bledsoe, James Harden also has gotten to prove that he is more than just a sixth man. In his third season with the Rockets, he has proven to be one of the top scorers in the league. Though his is known for his mid-range, the shooting guard has a good post-up shot and has an innate ability to draw contact. After losing Jeremy Lin to free agency, second-year point, Isaiah Canaan, has seen an increase in playing time, starting six games and average nine points per. However, it is Patrick Beverley who continues to impress at the 1 spot. He is averaging over ten points a game and is also a tenacious defender. With Jason Terry provided quality minutes behind Harden, the Rockets also have one of the most versatile backcourts.
3. Phoenix Suns: One of the huge factors here was wins and losses. That being said, the NBA is not a 2 on 2 game (and, you know, it’s still November). It is, however, a guard driven league, which is evident by the Suns’ recent competitiveness. The team went just 25-57 in the 2012-13 season. After acquiring Eric Bledsoe, who finally got to be more than Chris Paul’s shadow, and switching Goran Dragic to the 2, the Suns finished 48-34 last season (though, Bledsoe did miss a lenthy amount of time, due to injury). Not only is the NBA a guard driven league, the Suns are a guard driven team. They have something most other teams on this list lack – depth. They also acquired Gerald Green last season and traded for Isaiah Thomas this summer. Despite coming off the bench, Thomas co-leads the team with 15.6 PPG. That stat is matched by Dragic, while Green and E-Bled each put in over 13 a night.
2. Toronto Raptors: Ladies and gentlemen, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The two are combining for nearly 40 points per game, as their Raptors currently sit atop the Eastern Conference. Their schedule, thus far, has not been difficult (half of their wins came against Orlando, Boston and the depleted OKC Thunder); however, their backcourt is still second to none. Actually, in the committee’s (my) opinion, it is second to one. Nonetheless, Lowry is finally finding his place as a scorer and is continuing to improve on last year’s breakout season. Also, while he and DeRozan continue to light it up on the offensive end, they also both have ability on the boards.
And the winner is…
1. Golden State Warriors: Honestly, it’s not even close; the Golden State Warriors have, by far, the best backcourt in the NBA. As a team, the Warriors average over 108 PPG; almost half of which are accounted for by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Curry is the best shooter in the league and Thompson is not far behind. Both are a constant threat to pull-up, and also have the deadly ability to catch and shot from beyond-the-arc. Curry also has one of the best ball-handling skills in the league and leads the lead in steals per game.
Now, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room – injuries. The Wizards might have been as high as number three on this list, had Beal not fractured his wrist during the preseason (as of press time, he was a game-time decision to make his debut last night). Chicago also has an excellent starting backcourt, in Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose; however, Rose has not shown me that he can be consistently healthy.
As for the Cavs, they still have yet to find a consist starter at the shooting guard to play alongside Kyrie Irving, and also lack the flow and chemistry of a team like Houston. Waiters was right, however. Even when healthy, to label Washington’s backcourt as best in the league is “nonsense.”
That title clearly goes to Golden State.
Katelyn Clooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org