Ranking the Best Young Backcourts in the NBA Today
NBA backcourts are undergoing a renaissance like no other in the history of the game. Every draft seems to yield yet another magnificent young guard, creating an abundance of talented young backcourts in the league.
Starting from the top with Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry, there are so many good young point guards in the NBA that it's starting to get hard to keep them all straight.
Then you can jump over to the shooting guard spot where you'll find James Harden, Klay Thompson, Monta Ellis and countless other noticeable names, either great shooters, playmakers, defenders, scorers or all of the above.
While the league moves away from well-defined positions in the frontcourt, the backcourts are following down the same path, with a lot of ball sharing and combined duties as players become smarter and more talented.
As these guys start to mature, we're going to see this turn into a league where skilled guards are everywhere, and a team without one suddenly falls into a disadvantage.
Let's take a look at the league's best backcourt combinations still in a youthful state, looking for an average cutoff age of 25 years old.
Honorable Mention: John Wall and Bradley Beal
Combined Stats: N/A
The duo that starts to look better and better as Bradley Beal shakes off his early-season jitters has to be John Wall and Beal.
Beal is still shooting very poorly at just 36 percent from the floor, but he's continually looking more comfortable out there, doing what the Wizards need him to do with and without the ball.
Once Wall comes back, this team will have a player to run the offense through and Beal can really get going, which should accelerate his development.
Hopefully we can see something from the two of them sooner rather than later.
10. Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson
Combined Stats: 32 points, 6.7 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 2.7 steals, 0.9 blocks
This isn't the most efficient backcourt duo in the NBA, but when they're on they can be a very dangerous couple of players.
In the end, it looks like Gerald Henderson is destined to become a very good sixth man at some point in his future, but Kemba Walker looks to be a legitimate starting point guard.
Once these two learn to play together more effectively, we should see them start to score more efficiently and ratchet up their defense.
9. Ricky Rubio and Alexy Shved
Combined Stats: 13.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 9 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.4 blocks
As little as these two have played together, it seems like they're one of the most fun duos to watch in the entire NBA. Plus, it seems like they'll both be with the Timberwolves for a while.
Obviously they don't have much to boast statistically, and that's mostly due to the fact that Rubio has played in four games this season and Shved is still learning how to play efficiently in America.
When they get going and the ball gets fizzing around the perimeter, however, it's hard to stop yourself from getting giddy.
Plus, you can't undervalue how fun it is to say their names in each player's native accent.
8. Jeff Teague and Lou Williams
Combined Stats: 27.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 2.8 steals, 0.6 blocks
They seem to get a bit overlooked because of the dominant frontcourt that Atlanta has boasted this season, but a ton of the Hawks' success has to do with Jeff Teague and Lou Williams.
It's hard to tell if Teague is ever going to be more than a guy who can come in, run a game relatively well, and walk away with six or seven assists, but if you pair him with a guy like Williams, then you've got a dynamic backcourt.
When you've got two dynamic players like this who are both great with the ball in their hands, have the ability to penetrate relatively well, and can shoot with some consistency, it's hard to really know who to watch out for.
7. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan
Combined Stats: 33.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.7 steals, 1 block
We're obviously going to need a healthy Kyle Lowry to see just how well they can work out, but we've seen enough from either of them in the past to show us that they can be a great tandem.
What you get from Lowry and DeRozan is a couple of guys who are relentless on the floor, DeRozan at getting to the hoop, and Lowry at, well, everything.
Lowry is one of the league's best rebounding point guards, and if you combine that with a long, athletic DeRozan, then you've got yourself a terrific rebounding duo, and a few guys who could potentially be great together defensively.
Hopefully, Lowry can find his health so we can see them together for an extended period of time.
6. Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews
Combined Stats: 33.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.7 steals, 0.5 blocks
When you hear about the Portland Trail Blazers anymore, most likely the story surrounds how amazing Damian Lillard was as the rest of the team was solid enough to pull out a win.
After Lillard, you get an earful about LaMarcus Aldridge, and then Nicolas Batum.
Maybe if there's time left over, somebody will mention Wesley Matthews.
Matthews has, however, had a solid year after a down one last season, and the Trail Blazers are better for it.
With a point guard like Lillard to take some of the pressure off him and the rest of the team, it has allowed for more open jumpers.
5. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis
Combined Stats: 36.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.1 assists, 3.6 steals, 0.6 blocks
These two possess clashing styles of play, mostly because they're relatively the same player, but they sure can be fun to watch.
Offensively, they both want to shoot the ball more than they would care to pass it, but they've worked well enough together this season to each average around five assists.
They're horrible at scoring efficiently, but we didn't let that bother us too much in the early 2000s, so why let it start now?
In reality, these two won't work together long-term, but they are really entertaining when they're gambling on defense, springing around on offense and just being jolly in general.
4. Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley
Combined Stats: N/A
It's hard to say just how good these two can be together, but once Avery Bradley is healthy we can get a pretty good idea.
Defensively the opposition has no chance. This might just be the best defensive backcourt in the NBA, and at the very least they're right up there alongside Memphis' Mike Conley and Toney Allen, along with any and all competitors.
One of the most stunning stats surrounding Rondo is that he has more assists by himself with 12.2 than any of the duos combined.
Rajon Rondo is going to turn 27 in February, so they don't have much longer to be considered a "young" NBA backcourt. For now, however, they fall in the 25-year-old average threshold.
Of course, with Bradley yet to play this season, it's going to hurt how the two of them rank among the young guns around the league.
3. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters
Combined Stats: 37.5 points, 6 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.5 blocks
I'm going to be honest with you here; Kyrie Irving is carrying this tandem.
That's not to say that Dion Waiters is a bad basketball player, just that he wouldn't be anywhere near this list if he were to replace somebody like Kemba Walker or Lou Williams.
Irving is in the running to be an Eastern Conference All-Star. He shooting over 47 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line, and is just flat-out dazzling on the court.
He could be the best ball-handler since Allen Iverson.
When he is playing well and suddenly Waiters gets hot, however, then look out.
The Los Angeles Clippers can tell you a little bit about that. These two hooligans combined for 52 points and sank 11 three-pointers between them to beat the Clips in Los Angeles back in November.
2. Jeremy Lin and James Harden
Combined Stats: 36.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 11.6 assists, 3.6 steals, 1 block
Once these two learn to work together, it's going to be impossible to keep the Houston Rockets from scoring, that much is obvious.
What each player brings to the table is a very similar set of skills. James Harden is just better at getting into the lane and scoring from contact. When Jeremy Lin hits his stride, this team can be downright dominant.
Over the past few games, the Rockets have handed over the bulk of the ball-handling duties to Lin, leading to a more spaced defense, huge scoring performances from Harden, and five wins in the last six games.
1. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry
Combined Stats: 36.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 9 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.6 blocks
These two just so happen to be the starting backcourt on one of the top four playoff teams in the Western Conference, so that's bound to help them out going into the future.
In their second season together, Curry and Thompson have proven to be an extremely potent scoring threat, with some impressive strides on defense thrown in, just to make them that much more dangerous.
While they aren't the best on-ball defenders, they do have a knack for getting their long arms in the way of passes and jarring loose a steal here and there.
Combine these two with David Lee and a nice bench mob featuring Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, and the Golden State Warriors have themselves a stellar group of young guys.