The NBA is becoming a guard-dominated league as the three-point line makes long-range shooting valuable and minimizes the skilled big man. Gone is the era when offenses could repeatedly dump the ball to their center game after game and expect him to consistently score. The league is moving toward quick scoring guards in the mold of Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and Goran Dragic.
It’s important to have a backcourt that can really put pressure on opposing defenses. A duo of two guards (technically slated as a point guard and a shooting guard) really makes your team go.
As we rank the backcourts, we eliminate the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard due to the other half of the duo (J.J. Reddick, Jeremy Lamb, Danny Green, Dion Waiters, Wesley Matthews respectively) not carrying their weight (being good enough).
We will however, delve into several duos that are leading candidates for best starting backcourt. Suns fans think it is Goran Dragic/Eric Bledsoe, Wizards fans think it is John Wall/Bradley Beal, Warriors fans think it is Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson, Nets fans think it is Deron Williams/Joe Johnson and Raptors fans think it is Kyle Lowry/DeMar DeRozan.
But how do we evaluate these duos?
All these pairs played together last year so we’ll look at combined scoring and assist averages, shooting percentages and averaged PER. This will give us a good picture.
Let’s start with combined points per game average.
Curry/Thompson: 42.4 PPG
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, aka “The Splash Brothers” lead the way in terms of scoring due to the fact they are the main offensive firepower for their team. The Raptors, Suns and Wizards duos fall in behind with only a couple points in between, but the Nets pair comprised of All-Star veterans is far behind.
Even if you can score, it is more important to do it efficiently, so you don’t hurt your team just chucking up shots.
True Shooting Percentage is an advanced metric that takes into account three-pointers, free throws and regular two-pointers. I averaged the TS% of both players.
*Bledsoe didn’t play enough to qualify for TS% but I used the formula and calculated it. He was playing well before and after his injury so the number probably would hold up. Did the same for Wall and Beal, who were out of the top-100 at teamrankings.com.
So, Dragic and Bledsoe lead this category with Curry and Thompson right on their tail. There is a drop off for the Nets and Raptors duos with the Wizards pair quite far behind in terms of true shooting percentage.
So we’ve seen how these players score and how efficiently they do that. Now let’s see how well they are at creating for their teammates as playmakers (assist leaders).
Wall/Beal: 12.1 APG
The Wizards barely lead this statistic by a slight margin over the Suns and Raptors. Warriors slightly behind them and the Nets don’t distribute enough.
Finally to finish it off, is averaged Player Efficiency Rating (PER). The average NBA player has a PER of 15. It is an overarching metric to look at players.
Dragic/Bledsoe: 20.53 PER
The Phoenix pair leads this category with the Raptors and Warriors duos right behind. The Wizards and Nets are far behind in PER.
So, Curry and Thompson led PPG, Dragic and Bledsoe led True shooting percentage, Wall and Beal led APG, and the Suns won again according to PER.
It looks like the Suns have the best starting backcourt due to the fact they have the best True shooting percentage and best averaged PER. They are tied for second in APG, and only four points a game behind in PPG. To make it even more certain, as a pair, Bledsoe and Dragic are better defenders than the next-best pair Curry and Thompson.