In the NBA, the backcourt dictates the pace and speed of the game and each offensive set. With the faster pace of today's game, a team's backcourt has become more important than ever.
One star player won't cut it to be named the best backcourt in the NBA. You need two players to form a backcourt, so you need two great players to have the premiere duo of guards in the league.
Let's take a look at all of the NBA backcourts, counting down from 30 to number one.
Point Guard - Devin Harris
Shooting Guard - C.J. Miles
Devin Harris (pictured) was once believed to be a potential star, but his career has plateaued. He is one of the better players on the Jazz but is only scoring 12.2 points per game. His assists are also down because of the lack of scorers around him. Harris' Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 15.7, one usually seen from an above-average player in the league.
At shooting guard, the Jazz have C.J. Miles and Raja Bell who combine for 11.2 points per game in 38.8 minutes.
Point Guard - Darren Collison
Shooting Guard - Paul George
So far in 2012, Paul George has only shown glimpses of the player the Pacers were expecting to show up.
George grew two inches over the summer and they thought it would make a huge difference in his game. Of course, trading for George Hill, another shooting guard, didn't help raise his ceiling as Hill is taking away playing time.
Darren Collison, George and Hill are far from cementing themselves as stars in the league—none average more than 12 points. Collison is possibly the best, as he also averages seven assists. They are, however, very good role players and can help the Pacers fight for a playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference.
But at the end of the day, the trio of backcourt players just haven't proven themselves.
Point Guard - Deron Williams
"Shooting Guard" - Sundiata Gaines
Deron Williams (pictured) might want to reconsider sticking around for the Nets' move to Brooklyn.
The team is such a mess that it now has another point guard starting alongside him in Sundiata Gaines, just so Gaines can play defense against the man Williams should be guarding. This is all so that Williams doesn't have to play defense and can give his all on offense.
It's kind of working—Williams is averaging 17.3 points and six assists per game. But it leaves them with a rookie—MarShon Brooks—to be the only real shooting guard who is producing, thanks to Anthony Morrow's sudden inability to score.
The Nets need to find a quality player to start alongside Williams or else they will run the All-Star point guard out of town.
Point Guard - Mike Conley
Shooting Guard - O.J. Mayo
When the reason your backcourt is so terrible is because Mike Conley has been in and out of your lineup, that's bad news.
Conley has been hampered by an ankle injury this season and as a result, he has only played in two games. In his stead were rookies Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby. They didn't do terribly, but they didn't provide the type of depth you would like to see from a playoff team.
At shooting guard, the Grizzlies have O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen. Allen is known for his defensive abilities, so there isn't too much to worry about that he is only averaging 4.5 points per game. However, Mayo is only scoring 6.8 points per game in 25.8 minutes of game time. That leaves him with a 4.6 PER.
Someone needs to help out the backcourt in Memphis.
Point Guard - Steve Nash
Shooting Guard - Jared Dudley
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Steve Nash is still playing well—averaging 10.8 points and eight assists each night—but the team around him is terrible. All of the pieces are very lackluster, including Jared Dudley.
Dudley is only averaging 10.8 points as well but could honestly be replaced with half of the shooting guards in the league and no one would notice.
Nash is the only high-quality player on this team, and even he can't keep them afloat.
Point Guard - D.J. Augustin
Shooting Guard - Gerald Henderson
The good news for the Charlotte Bobcats is that their best three scorers are their point guard, shooting guard and backup point guard, Kemba Walker.
The bad news is that power forward Boris Diaw is leading their team in assists with an average of 6.5 per game.
D.J. Augustin (pictured) is the leading scorer on the team but still averages under 15 points per game. His backup, Kemba Walker, does have a PER of 19.4, but a large part of that that is the fact that his production comes in only 20 minutes a game.
Point Guard - Rodney Stuckey
Shooting Guard - Ben Gordon
The Pistons are stuck with a combo guard running the point, and it isn't helping them.
Rodney Stuckey is currently only averaging .8 points more than rookie backup Brandon Knight in 10 more minutes on the court. Yes, Stuckey has better numbers in rebounding and assists as well, but Knight is only a rookie and could do that with more playing time.
Ben Gordon is the Pistons leading scorer with 18 points per game, but other than scoring, he doesn't do a whole lot. Plus, he is vastly overpaid with a salary over $11 million this season.
Point Guard- Toney Douglas
Shooting Guard- Landry Fields
The Knicks are in a tough position right now. The man they brought in to start at point guard, Baron Davis, is still at least a month away from playing with the team.
Until then, they're running with Toney Douglas who hasn't played too badly—he is averaging 13.8 points and 4.6 assists per game. Landry Fields is the starting shooting guard after a surprising rookie season. He is a good shooter and defender but isn't likely to improve a whole lot more.
Mike Bibby is giving the Knicks close to nothing off of the bench and Iman Shumpert has been hurt, but he can be a real scoring threat when he returns.
Until Davis makes his debut, however, the Knicks will be known solely for their frontcourt.
Point Guard - Kyrie Irving
Shooting Guard - Anthony Parker
Don't let those two titles fool you—point guard Ramon Sessions and shooting guard Daniel Gibson are both averaging above 20 minutes per game as well.
Cleveland has used all four of those players extensively and has seen pretty good results from it.
Kyrie Irving (pictured) was the top overall pick in last year's draft and is having his fair share of struggles adjusting to the pro game after playing a very abbreviated season at Duke in 2010-11 due to injuries. However, he is still averaging 13.3 points and 5.5 assists per game with a PER above 17. Sessions produces almost identical numbers.
Anthony Parker is a solid defender and gets most of his minutes for his defensive abilities. Gibson is a streaky shooter but has the ability to shoot the lights out and is currently off to the best start of his career.
Point Guard - Ricky Rubio
Shooting Guard - Wesley Johnson
The Minnesota Timberwolves have four guards that all play 20 or more minutes: Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea and Wesley Johnson.
All of them are fairly average at this point with no PER exceeding 16.7 and dipping as far down as 7.1. However, that could change in the near future as Ricky Rubio is living up to the hype and improving with each game.
Point Guard - John Wall
Shooting Guard - Nick Young
The Washington Wizards have a young backcourt that brings a lot of scoring threats to the table. What it lacks is a shutdown defender.
John Wall (pictured) is a likely candidate to break out and become a superstar in his second season. If he can do that, he will likely develop a defensive game to go along with his slick ball-handling skills.
Nick Young is always able to find a way to score the ball but he is terrible on defense—he averages .20 steals per game.
Behind Young is another second-year talent, Jordan Crawford. The Wizards love how Crawford plays; he is another potentially great scorer after dumping 39 on Miami last season.
Point Guard - Brandon Jennings
Shooting Guard - Stephen Jackson
The Milwaukee Bucks are still waiting for Brandon Jennings to have his breakout season following his great rookie year, and they're hoping that it comes in 2012.
So far, he is averaging 20 points per game but only 4.8 assists and .25 steals per game. We all know he can shoot the ball but it's the other facets of the point guard position that he needs work with.
Stephen Jackson is just a shell of his former self, only scoring 11.5 points per game. He also has an appalling 7.5 PER.
Pair Jennings with 2006-07 Jackson and you've got a special duo. But in 2012, it's pretty ordinary.
Point Guard - Jameer Nelson
Shooting Guard - Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson are not the players they once were, scoring only 6.6 and 8.8 points per game, respectively. Nelson is still averaging 5.2 assists per game, but the rest of his game is lacking.
J.J. Reddick, the sixth man, can shoot like no other. This season he is averaging 13.8 points per game and has an insane PER of 22.31. His play should vault him into the starting lineup shortly—a shot in the arm that the Orlando backcourt needs.
Point Guard - Jose Calderon
Shooting Guard - DeMar DeRozan
The Toronto Raptors have a quality team out on the court this year and the backcourt has a lot to do with it.
Jose Calderon is as steady as ever, averaging 12 points and 9.8 assists per game. He also has the sixth-best PER for point guards, 22.13.
DeMar DeRozan is showing us the type of player he can become once he is fully developed. He only spent one season at USC and has been raw his entire NBA career but is now averaging 17.2 points per game thanks to his developing jump shot. Once he decides to play as hard on defense as he does on offense, he can be a great player.
Point Guard - Jeff Teague
Shooting Guard - Joe Johnson
Jeff Teague has surprisingly become a pretty solid point guard as his career has gone on—he's averaging 13.4 points and 4.8 assists per game while holding the eighth-best PER for point guards.
Joe Johnson is his usual self, averaging 17.2 points per game all while shooting the ball too much and not playing very good defense.
Johnson won't be improving anytime soon, but if Teague continues to grow, they can be a better backcourt duo.
Point Guard - Jarrett Jack
Shooting Guard - Eric Gordon
Replacing Chris Paul is a very daunting task but Jarrett Jack and Eric Gordon (pictured) are doing an admirable job trying to do so.
Jack is averaging eight assists per game to go along with 16.5 points. He will likely cool off, but Eric Gordon will keep him from cooling off too much.
Gordon is one of the best shooting guards in the league and now after being traded by the Los Angeles Clippers has even more motivation to have a breakout year. When healthy, he can score 20 points per game and average around four rebounds and three assists per game, if not more.
Point Guard - Raymond Felton
Shooting Guard - Wesley Matthews
Like multiple other teams on this list, the Trail Blazers possess three men who are big contributors to their backcourt.
At point guard, the Blazers start Raymond Felton, who leads the team with seven assists per game.
However, it's at shooting guard where they have the most depth. Wesley Matthews (pictured) starts for Portland and averages 15.3 points and five rebounds per game. Jamal Crawford averages 15.8 points per game. Crawford is one of the game's best sixth men and won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2010.
Point Guard - Jason Kidd
Shooting Guard - Jason Terry
What's holding back the Mavericks from having a better backcourt?
Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, the players who receive the most playing time at either guard position are still putting up good numbers—six points and five assists per game for Kidd and 14.5 points and four assists per game for Terry.
Behind them are Delonte West and Vince Carter. While both are pretty good backups, neither is going to wow you with any of their plays or stats.
But hey, Kidd and Terry did just help lead Dallas to a championship.
Point Guard - Ty Lawson
Shooting Guard - Arron Afflalo
Ty Lawson (pictured) is quickly becoming a very good point guard for the Denver Nuggets.
Don't believe me? He's currently the third-best point guard in terms of PER and leads the team with 18.2 points and 2.5 steals per game.
At shooting guard, the Nuggets have Arron Afflalo, one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. Afflalo is also a .403 percent three-point shooter in his career.
What really makes them such a good backcourt is Andre Miller coming off of the bench for Denver. He brings veteran leadership to go along with his team-leading 6.7 assists per game.
Point Guard - Derek Fisher
Shooting Guard - Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant has been one of the best players in the NBA for over a decade now. Although his recent wrist injury is hurting him more than it would have five years ago, he still insists on being a volume shooter. It is hurting the Lakers.
Derek Fisher was a great point guard for former head coach Phil Jackson's triangle offense, but now he is far too old to play against guards like Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Because of those reasons, the Lakers' backcourt is not as good as it once was. Kobe still has a PER of 20.07 but Fisher has one of 7.92—53rd out of all the point guards in the league. Backup point guard Steve Blake has a PER of 12.6 and is a very streaky shooter.
Point Guard - Jrue Holiday
Point Guard - Lou Williams
The Philadelphia 76ers find themselves in a unique situation—it's their point guard and backup point guard that give them such an exciting backcourt.
Starter Jrue Holiday (pictured) is averaging 15.5 points per game and his backup, Lou Williams is leading the team with 20.3 points per game.
Their abilities give Philadelphia incredible confidence in its point guard at any given moment in the game, whether Holiday or Williams is in.
Point Guard - Kyle Lowry
Shooting Guard - Kevin Martin
The Houston Rockets have a pretty terrible team put together—they have three former lottery picks who are regarded as busts. They do, however, have a pretty good backcourt.
Kyle Lowry (pictured) is set to have a mini-breakout year and is already averaging a double-double with 13.3 points per game and a league-leading 11.5 assists per game. He is also pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game and has the second-highest PER for point guards, 25.80.
Kevin Martin is an elite scorer and currently ranks eighth in PER at the shooting guard position. If he could only play some defense, this duo would be much more feared.
Point Guard - Tyreke Evans
Shooting Guard - Marcus Thornton
The Sacramento Kings are another team with a young and talented backcourt.
Tyreke Evans was the 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year and has the potential to be an All Star. At shooting guard, Marcus Thornton is a great scorer averaging 20 points per game this season and has a top-five PER.
They both can be great players, but they do need to work on their defense. Once Evans starts to rack up more assists, he will make the Kings more dangerous.
Point Guard - Mario Chalmers
Shooting Guard - Dwyane Wade
Mario Chalmers is up there with Los Angeles Laker Derek Fisher as one of the worst point guards on an elite team, hands down. He only averages 8.8 points per game and four assists per game.
But his running mate, Dwyane Wade, is one of the best players today—easily the best shooting guard in the league. Wade is only the 15th-ranked shooting guard in terms of PER, 18.37, but don't expect him to stay that low for long. Small forward LeBron James is dominating everyone right now, but once he settles down, Wade will return to form.
Point Guard - Derrick Rose
Shooting Guard - Richard Hamilton
Much like the Miami Heat, the Bulls are carried by a one-man backcourt. But in Chicago, it's their point guard, the 2011 MVP Derrick Rose (pictured) doing the work.
Rose is a top-five player in the league, and he is showing it in Chicago. While he isn't likely to put up numbers like he did last year—25 points and 7.7 assists per game—he is still going to play spectacular basketball in 2012.
He also has an upgrade at shooting guard this year in Richard Hamilton. Hamilton is definitely slowing down, but he is a better player than Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer.
Point Guard - Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard - Monta Ellis
Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis are two of the NBA's best scorers, and together with the Warriors, they are quite the handful. Curry is only averaging 14 points per game, but he has been battling an ankle injury. Ellis is averaging 20.3 points and 8.5 assists per game.
What they have lacked on the defensive end at the start of their careers, it's slowly being made up for thanks to the arrival of head coach Marc Jackson. If either one can ever become an elite defender, they could become a more respected backcourt tandem.
Point Guard - Tony Parker
Shooting Guard - Manu Ginobili
People tend to forget just how good the San Antonio Spurs are. With power forward Tim Duncan approaching the end of his career, much more of the team's production has to come from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
And they are getting the job done.
Ginobili leads the Spurs in scoring with 17.4 points per game and is third in the entire NBA in PER. Parker is averaging seven assists and is scoring 13.2 points per game this year.
If they can both stay healthy down the stretch, they may be able to lead the Spurs on one last title run.
Point Guard - Chris Paul
Shooting Guard - Chauncey Billups
In one of the shortest NBA offseasons in league history, the Clippers had quite possibly their best offseason in franchise history.
In just a matter of days, the Clippers picked up both Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, bringing in veteran leadership and a killer instinct from both.
With Billups playing off the ball for the first time in his career, he is still averaging 16 points per game and has a PER of 16.21. Paul continues to be the elite point guard he has always been and has a PER of 20.89 while averaging 15.5 points and 9.8 assists per game.
Point Guard - Russell Westbrook
Shooting Guard - James Harden
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a great backcourt—one of the best in the NBA today. Russell Westbrook (pictured) and James Harden are a deadly scoring duo who combine for 32.3 points per game. They also boast a combined 36.8 PER.
Harden is second on the team in PER and doesn't even start—the man in front of him is Thabo Sefolosha who has a PER of 13.5 and plays great defense. Both shooting guards are also in the top 10 true shooting percentage for shooting guards.
Point Guard- Rajon Rondo
Shooting Guard- Ray Allen
When at the top of their respective games, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are two of the best players in the NBA, regardless of position.
Both are in the top five in terms of PER for their position, each having a PER of at least 22.15. Rondo and Allen both also have some of the top value added stats in the league, 36.5 and 39.8 respectively.
Rondo is also currently has the second-most assists in the league.
They can ball—and they know how to lead a championship-caliber team while doing it.