Injuries and underwhelming play have completely changed the dynamics of this list. You’re used to seeing backcourts like the Deron Williams–Joe Johnson duo in Brooklyn or the Steve Nash–Kobe Bryant tandem in Los Angeles or Oklahoma City’s pair in Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. Even the tandem of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler would stand out as one of the league’s top starting backcourts. But, alas, that is impossible when all four of those aforementioned backcourts have not been worthy this year of being considered as one of the best backcourts in the league.
There’s a solid reason for each of them. Brooklyn’s backcourt still hasn’t recognized how to play together and is incredibly overrated. The backcourts of Chicago and the Lakers have yet to play any minutes together, and Oklahoma City’s backcourt has significantly struggled with their shots.
That disclaimer had to be mentioned. Just simply being a recognizable, standout name isn’t going to make this list. This rundown of the league’s 10 best starting backcourts is based on how well they have started off the year, as well as how well they’ve lived up to the expectations they had going into the season.
There’s a delicate relationship in the backcourt, especially when both players have similar playing styles. Both guards usually need the ball in their hands to thrive, but it’s the backcourts that can thrive off of each other that truly separates that pair from the rest of the pack.
What makes it even more delicate is the distribution of shots. The point guard position has become far more than just setting up plays for teammates. Guys like Ricky Rubio and Jason Kidd, who chose far more often to pass than to shoot, are almost archaic. You can’t seem to come across a team now that doesn’t have a point guard who could be an All-Star, thanks to their emphasis on scoring, on top of passing ability.
When it doesn’t work, it’s ugly to watch, such as the situation brewing in Brooklyn where Deron Williams is dropping career-lows across the board. When it works, however, as in Golden State or Washington, it’s a beautiful thing; watching two players play not only contribute, but play off each other and in harmony.
I’m showing some appreciation to those relationships, ranking the league’s 10 best backcourts based on their performances from this year.
All stats, unless said otherwise, courtesy of NBA.com/stats
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10. New Orleans Pelicans: Jrue Holiday/Eric Gordon
It came down to either New Orleans’ high-scoring backcourt or that of the Memphis Grizzlies and their standout defensive backcourt to take the final spot in the top ten.