Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd and Each NBA Team's All-Time Best Backcourt Tandem

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2011

Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd and Each NBA Team's All-Time Best Backcourt Tandem

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    Many of the most exciting players in league history are backcourt players.  Guards like Pete Maravich, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have all dominated the game from the perimeter.

    Several of the most successful teams we've ever seen featured backcourt duos that were critical to their success.  

    A good point guard/shooting guard combo can lead to a lot of wins and a lot of excitement.

    Every team currently in the NBA has had some great backcourt combinations—this slideshow will give you each franchise's best...

Atlanta Hawks: Pete Maravich and Lou Hudson

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    In two out of the three years that "Pistol" Pete played in Atlanta, he and Lou Hudson combined to average over 50 points a game.

    Even at 6'5", Hudson played a lot of small forward, but for the purposes of this article a lot of small forwards will be considered backcourt or perimeter players.

Boston Celtics: Bob Cousy and Sam Jones

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    Bob Cousy won six NBA titles, Sam Jones won 10.  They won five together.

    Cousy led the league in assists in eight straight seasons and was the primary distributor when this duo was together.

    They both scored around 20 points a game and were two critical components of one of the league's original "Big Threes" (Bill Russell was of course a part of that trio).

Charlotte Bobcats: Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson

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    This franchise certainly has the least history to draw upon, so their greatest backcourt tandem doesn't have names that are nearly as big as other organizations.

    However, Felton and Jackson were solid together and helped get the Bobcats to the first playoff appearance in the team's history.

Chicago Bulls: Ron Harper and Michael Jordan

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    You already knew one of the guys that would be on this slide, so it came down to which Michael Jordan backcourt mate was best.

    Prior to his arrival in Chicago, Ron Harper was a 20-point, five-assist guy for nearly a decade.  He accepted a significantly smaller role with the Bulls and won three titles on that team (and two more with the Lakers).

Cleveland Cavaliers: Mark Price and Craig Ehlo

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    Most people know Craig Ehlo as the guy who Michael Jordan hit one of his iconic game-winning jump shots over.  There was a reason Ehlo was defending Jordan on that play.

    He was Cleveland's best perimeter defender and one half of the organization's best backcourt duo.  

    Mark Price was a fantastic point guard who averaged 17 and 10 one year, and Ehlo was a perfect complement to him.

Dallas Mavericks: Steve Nash and Michael Finley

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    Even though they never won a championship, the "Big Three" of Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki was one of the most exciting trios the league has ever seen.

    Nash and Finley were possibly the most difficult backcourt duo to defend in the early 2000s.

Denver Nuggets: Fat Lever and Michael Adams

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    Alex English is probably the player most people remember from the run-n-gun Nuggets of the 80s.  But the backcourt combo of Lever and Adams deserves some credit as well.

    When they played together, Lever was good for about 18 points and eight assists a game, while Adams chipped in around 16 and six.

Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars

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    This one was really a no-brainer.  Dumars and Thomas are not only the greatest backcourt tandem in Pistons history, but could have an argument for the best in NBA history as well.

    They won two titles together, and nearly averaged 40 points and 20 assists a game together.

Golden State Warriors: Baron Davis and Jason Richardson

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    Baron Davis and Jason Richardson made up one of the most exciting backcourts in the league when they played together in Golden State.

    They were both easily 20-point per game guys and Davis was a highly underrated distributor during his stint with the Warriors.

Houston Rockets: Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley

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    Some will wonder why I didn't go with some of the guards who played alongside Hakeem Olajuwon.  But just imagine how dominant those Houston championship teams might have been if they'd had this kind of talent in the backcourt.

    Early in his career, Steve Francis may have been one of the most overrated players in the league.  But Mobley may have been one of the most underrated—so it balances out.

Indiana Pacers: Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller

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    Mark Jackson is third all-time in career assists, and was a great floor general for the Pacers teams of the late 90s.

    Reggie Miller was one of the greatest shooters in NBA history.

    Together, they were easily the best backcourt Indiana's ever had.

Los Angeles Clippers: Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley

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    The Clippers have had a pretty rough existence as an NBA franchise.  But in 2006, they were one win away from making the Western Conference Finals.

    The experienced backcourt of Mobley and Cassell was a huge part of their success.

    I bet you didn't expect to see Cuttino Mobley on this list twice (or even once).

Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson and Byron Scott

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    Magic Johnson is arguably the greatest point guard of all-time and Byron Scott is maybe the most underrated player from the Lakers championship teams of the late 80s

    How many of you knew that Scott led the team in scoring during Magic Johnson's final championship season?

Memphis Grizzlies: Jason Wiliams and Mike Miller

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    Like the Bobcats, the Grizzlies are a young franchise.  There is a little more to choose from with this organization though.

    Jason Williams was an easy choice for this slide, but it was difficult to select the other half of the duo. 

    Shane Battier and Mike Miller weren't really shooting guards or small forwards, but rather both were wings.  So between those two, I could have gone either way.

    Battier was a great defender and leader, while Miller was a very well-rounded "point forward" type player.

Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade and Jason Williams

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    Jason Williams is the second player to make the list twice.  That's right, Jason Williams and Cuttino Mobley have made the list twice.

    Williams was the other half of the only backcourt duo in Miami Heat history to win a title.

    I could have gone with Tim Hardaway here (could have gone with him for Golden State too), but Wade may end up being one of the top 10 to 15 players of all-time.

Milwaukee Bucks: Oscar Robertson and Lucius Allen

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    Everyone knows that when Robertson played for the Cincinnati Royals he was the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double over the course of an entire season.

    But he didn't win a title until he joined forces with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lucius Allen in Milwaukee.

    The team was built around fantastic post play, but the perimeter games of Robertson and Allen should not be overlooked.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell

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    A lot like the Bucks teams of the early 70s, these Timberwolves revolved around their superstar big man.  

    But KG likely wouldn't have made the Western Conference Finals without great guard play of Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell.

New Jersey Nets: Jason Kidd and Vince Carter

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    Offensively, the trio of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson was one of the best ever.  

    Unfortunately, they never had the killer instinct or accompanying post presence required to be a real threat in the Eastern Conference.

    In terms of talent and entertainment value, there aren't many duos on this list that can compete with this one.

New Orleans Hornets: Baron Davis and David Wesley

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    Yes, Chris Paul is the best guard in Hornets history.  Unfortunately, he's never played with a decent shooting guard.

    Peja had some decent years in New Orleans, but I have a hard time qualifying him as a backcourt player.

    For true shooting guards, the best Paul ever had was either Morris Peterson or Marco Bellinelli.

    I also could have gone with Muggsy Bogues, but that presented the same problem I faced with Chris Paul.  He and Rex Chapman were solid together, but the combo of Baron Davis and David Wesley was the best in my mind.

    Together, they were good for over 30 points and 10 assists a game.

New York Knicks: Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe

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    Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Walt "Clyde" Frazier could make this list based on their nicknames alone.

    There games weren't bad either.  They won a title together in 1973, and both are in the Hall of Fame.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Gary Payton and Brent Barry

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    Gary Payton was the best point guard in Sonics/Thunder history.  He didn't have terribly prominent backcourt mates.

    Ricky Pierce and Hersey Hawkins were very good, but I feel Brent Barry was the best guard Payton played with.

    Barry was the kind of player who had the talent to score a lot more than he did, but willingly took on a lesser role to keep big-headed players like Payton happy.

Orlando Magic: Anfernee Hardaway and Nick Anderson

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    Anfernee Hardaway was one of the first players to be dubbed the "Next" Michael Jordan or the "Next" Magic Johnson.

    He was a 6'7" point guard who could score at a great rate, but didn't mind getting his teammates involved.

    His backcourt mate during his first few seasons in the league was Nick Anderson, who became a big-time outside shooter after Hardaway landed on the team.

    When they played together, they were good for over 30 points and 10 assists a game.

    They, along with Shaquille O'Neal, made an Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals, but never won it all.

Philadelphia 76ers: Allen Iverson and Eric Snow

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    Everyone looks at the Philadelphia teams of the early 2000s as a one-man show, and maybe rightfully so.

    But there were a couple other solid players on those teams, and point guard Eric Snow was one of them.

    He was a great backcourt complement to Iverson's 30-point, five-assist production.  Snow averaged double-figures in scoring in his last three years in Philly and led the team in assists for six straight seasons.

Phoenix Suns: Kevin Johnson and Jeff Hornacek

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    Most people from my generation only know Jeff Hornacek as the third wheel on those Jazz teams that lost back-to-back NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

    He actually led the 1991-92 Suns in scoring at 20.1 points per game.  He spent his first six years in the league in Phoenix, where he wasn't just one of the NBA's best shooters.

    As a member of the Suns, he averaged over five assists and almost four rebounds a game.

    Then there's Kevin Johnson, who is arguably the best point guard in Suns history.  Steve Nash is great, but even he never approached the kind of numbers Johnson put up while he played next to Hornacek.

    From 1989-1992, KJ averaged around 21 points and 11 assists a game.  Plus, he was a much better defender than Nash has ever been.

Portland Trail Blazers: Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter

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    Does anyone remember the classic Sega Genesis game Bulls vs. Blazers?  It was that wonderful little piece of genius that introduced this young'n to Clyde "The Glide" Drexler.

    He was nice in that game, but he was even nicer in real life.  He is in the Hall of Fame, and won a title with the Rockets, but he had his best individual years in Portland.

    He averaged over 27 points a game in back-to-back seasons with the Blazers, and finished his career with a scoring average over 20.

    Terry Porter was the Blazers' primary distributor during those years in Portland, and averaged 15 points and 10 assists a game during one of Drexler's 27 a game seasons.

Sacramento Kings: Oscar Robertson and Adrian Smith

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    As I said on the Milwaukee Bucks slide, Robertson's best individual seasons came when he played for the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).

    He averaged a triple-double during his second year in the league, when Adrian Smith was a rookie and little more than a role player.

    Smith grew alongside Robertson and a few years later became one of his favorite assist targets.

San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili

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    This duo fits the same mold as several others on this list.  They are fantastic players who really served as complements to a dominant big man.

    Tim Duncan was the centerpiece of the Spurs teams that won championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007, but it's hard to see him winning those titles without Parker and Ginobili.

Toronto Raptors: Vince Carter and Alvin Williams

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    Vince Carter may be the best player in Toronto Raptors history.  It's a toss-up between he and Chris Bosh.

    For years, he was one of the most exciting and dynamic scorers in the world (hence the nickname "Air Canada").

    Alvin Williams was never a huge numbers guy, but he was a nice complement to Carter and led the team in assists during three of the years in which he played with Carter.

Utah Jazz: John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek

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    John Stockton's individual credentials are well-known.  He is the all-time leader in assists and steals, averaging 10.5 and 2.2 a game over 19 seasons in the NBA.

    His most well-known teammate in Utah was Karl Malone, but it's hard to imagine that team being as successful as they were without Jeff Hornacek.

    His elite shooting and combo guard skills took a lot of pressure off Stockton.  For a few years, the two averaged around 30 points and 15 assists a game.

    In case you're counting, Hornacek is now the sixth player to make this list for two different teams (Cuttino Mobley, Jason Williams, Sam Cassell, Baron Davis and Oscar Robertson were the others).

Washington Wizards: Earl Monroe and Kevin Loughery

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    After averaging nearly 42 points a game during his senior season at Winston-Salem State University (topped only by Pete Maravich's insane numbers at Louisiana State), people expected a lot out of Monroe as he entered the league.

    He did not disappoint.  He averaged well over 20 points a game in each of his four full seasons with the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards).

    During those same four seasons, Kevin Loughery averaged nearly 20 points a game and led the team in assists twice.