It’s rare when you can have two extremely gifted shooters on your team. The game just flows easier when you have multiple guys that can knock down shots from the stripe. After their breakout performances in last year’s playoffs, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (also known as “The Splash Brothers”) received the ultimate praise from their head coach Mark Jackson when he said in the Western Conference Semifinals last May, “I said I’ve got the greatest shooting backcourt that’s ever played the game.”
The comments by Jackson sparked a debate about who were the best shooting tandems in league history. While the NBA three-point line did not come into place until 1979, you can imagine if some of the legends like Jerry West and Pete Maravich had a chance to practice for years on the shot: it’d be nothing but buckets.
Below is a list of the best shooting duos in NBA history.
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15. MARK PRICE (Career Averages) — 47.2 FG percentage/40.2 3PT percentage (976 career makes)/90.4 FT percentage
TERRELL BRANDON — 44.8/35.5 (394)/87.3
Cleveland Cavaliers — 1991-1995
Mark Price was the Steph Curry of his era. If you watch some of the videos of Mark Price in his Cavs days you will see the comparison isn’t far off. Price was, without a doubt, one of the best shooters in NBA history. At the time he was one of the only players to join Larry Bird in the exclusive club of averaging 50/40/90 in a single season.
Just how Curry was underrated, Price was a second-round pick out of Georgia Tech. His stroke was pure and he had a lot of craft in his game. (Steve Kerr also played on some of those teams, but didn’t see much PT at all.) He was a four-time All-Star and a two-time Three-Point Shootout champion in consecutive years. After Price suffered a serious knee injury back in 1991, the Cavs pegged hometown native Terrell Brandon as his successor. The two never saw that much court time together as Brandon was mostly used as a scoring threat off the bench with a dangerous midrange jumper. After four years of backing up Price, Brandon came into his own, and showed the league he was one the best point guards in the league. Even Sports Illustrated put him on the cover in 1997 with the title “The Best Point Guard in the NBA”. This was during a time with Hall of Famers like John Stockton and Gary Payton in their prime.
14. EARL MONROE — 46.4/* (no three-point line)/80.7
WALT FRAZIER — 49.0/*/78.6
New York Knicks — 1971-1977
Monroe and Frazier made up one of the flashiest backcourts in NBA history, whether it was on or off the court. They fit the New York culture and both were very flamboyant in style. Before they were teammates, the two had a well-known rivalry dating back to their entrance in the league together in 1967. When the Knicks traded for Monroe, the “Rolls Royce” backcourt was born.
People wondered if Monroe’s playing style would fit with Frazier, who was the primary ballhandler and a superstar in his own right at the time. They proved critics wrong and were elite scorers for a contending Knicks team in the ’70s. Monroe’s playground style changed the guard play in the NBA forever, while Frazier’s laid back and cool demeanor made him one of the best orchestrators in NBA history. They led the Knicks to their last NBA championship during the 1972-73 season. Forty-one years later and Knicks fans are still searching for a championship.
13. CHAUNCEY BILLUPS — 41.5/38.8 (1,829)/89.4
RICHARD HAMILTON — 44.5/34.6 (530)/85.2
Detroit Pistons — 2002-2008
The Detroit Pistons were a force in the Eastern Conference during the first few years of the new century. The franchise was searching for answers that would help them return to title contenders. Signing Billups and acquiring Hamilton from the Wizards, the Pistons definitely made the right moves. The two would form a deadly combo.
A natural leader, Billups earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” for his clutch shooting in the 2004 Playoffs. Rip was known for tiring defenders with the way he moved without the ball, having them chase him around the court. He led the Pistons in scoring and had one of the sweetest catch and shoot strokes ever from midrange. They led the Pistons back to prominence in 2004, defeating Shaq, Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers. Billups was the Finals MVP, averaging 21 points per game.