Amongst basketball Twitter, one frequent discussions held amongst participants is ‘who has the best backcourt in the NBA’. Well, ESPN writer Amin Elhassan decided to take on the task of figuring it out himself, answering the question over at ESPN Insider, naming his five best backcourts in the league. Here is his listing.
- Chris Paul – J.J. Redick (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Stephen Curry – Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
- John Wall – Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
- Goran Dragic – Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix Suns)
- Derrick Rose – Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
Here’s what Elhassan had to say about the Paul-Redick duo which he claims to be the best backcourt in the league (you’ll need a ESPN Insider subscription to view the entire article):
Congrats, Steve Ballmer, that $2 billion price tag comes with some cool features, namely the most well-rounded backcourt in the NBA. Once again, Chris Paul ranks as Bradford Doolittle’s top point guard in the NBA, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, he’s this generation’s model of how to play point: excellent distributor, controller of game tempo, terrific penetration and finishing skills, deadly pull-up game, outstanding vision, elite IQ, vicious on-ball defense, clutch-time heroics, etc.
His counterpart, Redick, is no star in the conventional sense, but his elite shooting from all areas of the floor, undervalued ability to run secondary pick-and-roll and either score or distribute, and underrated defensive proficiency (particularly within team schemes) make him the perfect complement to Paul.
The Clippers selection is fine. The consensus best point guard in the NBA is Chris Paul and J.J. Redick continues to fly under the radar. Too often is he known as just a shooter which is a slight to his game. Last season, Redick averaged a career-high 15.2 points in 28 minutes per game. He shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three, and 91 percent from the free-throw line. You don’t do that by being ‘just a shooter’.
Once you delve deeper into his ability to knock down shots from pretty much anywhere–and even deeper, analyzing Redick’s impact on offenses–you begin to realize how good a player he is: in every Synergy offensive category in which Redick shot 40 or more shots (overall, p&r ball-handler, spot-up, off screen, hand off, transition), he shot at least 42 percent. In three-point attempts in spot up, off screen, and transition situations, Redick shot at least 36 percent from behind the arch. Per NBA Stats, Redick shot 49 percent from mid-range–third best amongst guards with at least 100-plus attempts (Courtney Lee, Grieves Vasquez), 68 percent in the restricted area, and 49 percent on corner threes. He’s an elite shooter if there ever was one and the perfect fit alongside Paul in Doc Rivers’ system.
In regards to the list in totality. Here are some brief thoughts on Elhassan’s top-5 backcourt list:
- Some honorable mentions that came to mind: Ty Lawson-Arron Afflalo (Denver–Lawson should be better if the health of the team improves and if Afflalo can be 90% as good as he was last season in Orlando,), Kemba Walker-Lance Stephenson (Charlotte, it’ll be interesting to see how these two fit alongside each other in Steve Clifford’s system), Russell Westbrook-Reggie Jackson (Scott Brooks has yet to confirm who will start alongside Westbrook in the backcourt, but if Jackson is named the guy, this group automatically leaps into top-5 status), and Patrick Beverley-James Harden (Houston, if you’ve the best shooting guard in the league on the roster, you deserve a mention. He, Harden, and Pat Bev are an excellent fit together).
- It’s a shocker Kyle Lowry-DeMar Derozan didn’t appear on this list. Both guards are coming off career-best years and with another year together, it’s not crazy to assume they can continue to improve.
- A bigger sample size will be needed for the Butler-Rose duo. IF Derrick Rose is 2011 Rose, then the inclusion is fair, but until he proves to be an elite guard again and Butler can prove to be an above-average offensive threat (Rose’s presence may help there), this duo should be on the outside looking in.
- I am not ready to say Wall and Beal are a better duo than Dragic and Bledsoe. If potential is a factor, then it’s reasonable to see why the Washington duo is number three on the list. Wall and Beal fit well together and if their improvement is continued, it’s rational to see them as the best backcourt in the near future. But for now? Dragic-Bledsoe seems like a better, especially if Bledsoe can avoid injury in ’14-15.
There are several directions one could go here. Preference plays a key role as well as fit, overall talent, and potential. You like the super-shooting the Splash Brothers provide? Golden State is for you. You like the potential of Wall-Beal? Washington is for you. The overall talent of Paul-Redick? Los Angeles is for you. Depending on which factors weighs most in your decision could create a separate list from Elhassan’s.
Regardless of your choice, debating this particular topic is a great conversation starter. Throughout the upcoming season, we’ll revisit these projections and likely look deeper into the statistics and film to figure out who deserves to be included and those who don’t belong.