Alright, maybe everyone has had enough of the term “definitive”, coupled with some self-important attitude about the necessity of making these lists. And for an article with precious little research other than a glance at every NBA team’s starting 5 this year (adjusted for injury) and the brief conceit of, “Which two guys gives me the absolute best chance of winning a single competitive game on a neutral court?”, this one has to be far from necessary. There are no career statistics, no “how will these guys’ styles translate in the playoffs?”, no meaningful ramifications over how these backcourts may evolve over the years as young prospects develop. Just these two guys in a gym somewhere with three other scrubs, trying to get a W. Hell, there’s just no ring to Subjective NBA Backcourt Rankings.
- Golden State: Chef Curry and Klay Thompson
God, you can’t even help off a little bit. This was an easy first but see how Nate Duncan compares these two to historical backcourts of the past (i.e. Isaiah Thomas/Ben Dumars or Magic and Byron Scott).
2. Toronto: Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan
A tough one to call second, but the only other team in the league with two All-Stars in the backcourt. 2nd seed locked down, on pace for 55 wins, and who else on this team scares you? These two doing it all on their own.
3. Washington: John Wall and Bradley Beal
You’d think a team this high up would be a little more firmly in the playoff conversation than a frantic sprint for the 8th seed. I would refer you to “adjusted for injury”.
4. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul and JJ Redick
I’m prepared to defend this one if need be. If you want a player who absolutely needs to win you one game (and maybe make some enemies in the process) CP3 is your guy. Redick also shooting 48% from 3 this season wowza!
5. Portland: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum
These two were in Boston last night which has to be the best place in the NBA for color commentating (okay maybe outside of Toronto, Hello!!). Tommy Heinsohn’s answer for the Splash Brothers? The Rain Makers!
6. Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson
The first of the teams where the exceptional talent of one player is enough to pull the ranking up for both. Hell, I’d put Roberson on the other team’s scorer and just let Russ work.
7. Chicago: Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler
Working under the assumption that these two would be cordial enough with each other to try to win of course.
8. Houston: Patrick Beverly and James Harden
Another example of one exceptional player. For all the nonsense that’s surrounded Houston this season Harden is still averaging 29-7-6 with 10 free throw attempts and almost 38 minutes a game. Where have you been Dwight??
9. Miami: Goran Dragic and Dwayne Wade
Dwayne Wade is that old dude playing pick-up.
10. Cleveland: Kyrie Irving and JR Smith
Okay, maybe the real oldie playing pickup. There’s been a few disparaging things out of Cleveland over Irving’s happiness level and point guard defense, but I’m still willing to believe my boys are able to outscore the best of them.
11. Memphis: Mike Conley and Tony Allen
CAN WE GIVE MIKE CONLEY SOME LOVE? Homie has to play in the same conference as Steph/CP/Russ/Dame. Let’s get this guy to the Eastern Conference so he can make a friggin’ All-Star team already.
12. Boston: Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley
It may be the wizardry of head coach Brad Stevens. Or dysfunction of Sacramento and Phoenix. But Isaiah Thomas can BALL.
13. Charlotte: Kemba Walker and Courtney Lee
The man with the killer crossover, upping his 3 point % in a big way this season. Charlotte may benefit from being criminally underrated come playoff time.
14. Atlanta: Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver
Hard to believe both these guys were All-Stars last year. Korver looks like he’s aged 5 years since then.
15. San Antonio: Tony Parker and Danny Green
THERE THEY ARE!! For everyone thinking the Spurs should’ve shown up a lot sooner, all their best players are in the frontcourt. Chill out.
16. Detroit: Reggie Jackson and KCP
These two guys are both having career years, but let’s not get too carried away. Caldwell-Pope may be one of the league’s few Curry-hinderers but he’s barely a 30% 3 point shooter while Reggie Jackson has Andre Drummond in the middle to clean up all of his misses.
17. Indiana: George Hill and Monta Ellis
These two guys complement each other pretty well, Ellis the drive and kick engine and Hill spotting up for 3s and playing tough defense. But when is the last time ANYONE can remember a Monta Ellis ISO winning a game?
18. Dallas: Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews
Ahhh yes, head coach Rick Carlisle and his reclamation projects. This duo is about 8 spots lower if they played for any other coach, but Dallas has one of the greats. Too bad he could never get through to Rondo.
19. Minnesota: Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins
There’s a case to be made that if this fictional game was being played pick-up style, the athleticism of these two would bring them much higher. That being said, it’s this is about as much credence as I can give to a backcourt without a single shooter.
20. Milwaukee: OJ Mayo and Khris Middleton
Oh yeah, speaking of lack of shooting.
21. Orlando: Elfrid Payon and Victor Oladipo
And before I go too far afield on this little “backside of a barn” tangent, I really like what these two bring in Orlando. They may still be a little raw offensively, but if this front office surrounds them with perimeter weaponry, these guys have a ton of upside.
22. Los Angeles Lakers: Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson
The sad thing about this absolute waste of a season for the league’s biggest market? That they can’t even start D’Angelo Russell and give him some more development. Even sadder, they might be better this year without him.
23. New York: Jose Calderon and Arron Affllalo
As much as I wanted to put these two as the absolute bottom feeders, Afflalo can light it up on offense on the right night, especially if he doesn’t have to run any plays or pass the ball to anyone else. Calderon? Calderon? Calderon….
24. Sacramento: Rajon Rondo and Marco Bellinelli
WE BEAT RONDO!! (And I do think we would beat Rondo)
25. Denver: Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris
Okay, so these guys aren’t there just yet, but you can almost see them putting together little pieces of it every night. If Mudiay can just calm down a little and start knocking down some midrange jumpers, this is a guy who could be sniffing John Wall potential in no time.
26. Utah: Raul Neto and Rodney Hood
Rodney Hood is good. Neto or Shelvin Mack or (god forbid!) Trey Burke is not.
27. Phoenix: Ronnie Price and Devin Booker
The real winner of the three point contest this year may just have been Booker who knocked out people like Redick and Harden on course to finish in the final three with the two Splash Brothers from the number 1 spot. Phoenix has a real gem here, 19 years old.
28. New Orleans: Jrue Holiday and Norris Cole
It’s almost impossible to look at the New Orleans roster outside of Anthony Davis and construct a real NBA team. Jrue Holiday might be one of the players on that team.
29. Philadelphia: Ish Smith and Nik Stauskas
Ish Smith may have saved the Philadelphia 76ers. I’ll just let that sink in for a second. Ish Smith may have saved the Philadelphia 76ers.
30. Brooklyn: Donald Sloan and Wayne Ellington
These guys could use a little Ish Smith.