5 Best Young Guard Tandems in the NBA
As of right now, there is no position deeper in the NBA than guard. The association has a bevy of young guards trying to establish their names as the best. From Kyle Lowry to Deron Williams, last year the NBA was home to some of the most exciting guard play in recent memory.
Many times, however, teams have one excellent guard, but can't find a second star to alleviate the pressure. For instance, the Chicago Bulls find themselves in this situation, as the combination of Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans was not the right fit around star guard Derrick Rose.
But for every team that finds themselves in the aforementioned situation, there is a organization who already has their back court of the future. In the following slides, I will show you my top five best young guard tandems in the NBA.
5. Michael Conley and O.J. Mayo
Last year Michael Conley finally shed the "bust label" that has been haunting him since his NBA career took off. He had his highest points per game average, which was 13.7, and finally became the facilitator the Grizzlies have been needing. Not only did he look more controlled and refined on the court, but he led the Memphis Grizzlies to an a series win over the first-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs.
O.J. Mayo, on the other hand, has been a star since being drafted with the third overall pick back in 2008. Coming straight out of USC, Mayo made an immediate impact in the league. He earned runner-up for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after averaging a remarkable 18.5 points per game. However, Mayo has seen a slight dip in production, mostly due to the off the court issues that have sent him to the bench.
Both Mayo and Conley are still relatively young, as both of them are 24, and should develop into a solid backcourt for the Grizzlies. Plus, with star Rudy Gay, resigned big man Marc Gasol and bruiser Zach Randolph this team has a bright future ahead of them.
4. Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette
After being drafted fourth overall in the 2009 draft, Tyreke Evans failed to disappoint his rookie season. In his first year in the NBA, he put up a stat line of 20 points per game, five rebounds per game and a little under six assists per game. His stats were remarkable enough to put himself as only the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. The other three players were Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Oscar Robertson. Not only did he put up insane stats, but he went home with the NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
After being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 10th overall pick in this year's draft, Jimmer Fredette was traded to the Kings and in the process Sacramento gave up fan-favorites John Salmons and Ben Udrih. Obviously the Kings saw something special in the former BYU star, but who didn't? The guy is an absolute stud. His college tenure was so impressive that even Kevin Durant dubbed him "the best scorer in the world" on his Twitter account.
Don't look now NBA, but the Kings are relevant again with Evans and Fredette leading the way.
3. John Wall and Jordan Crawford
After having a remarkable first season with the Kentucky Wildcats, John Wall decided to forgo his final three seasons of college eligibility and enter the 2010 NBA Draft. Due to his NBA ready skill set and All-Star caliber potential, everybody knew that John Wall would be selected with the first overall pick by the Washington Wizards.
After having an excellent first season with the Wizards, which was mostly overshadowed by fellow rookie Blake Griffin, John Wall is expected to bring this Wizards team back to relevancy his sophomore season. However, he will not be doing this tough task alone, as fellow guard Jordan Crawford will help alleviate the pressure teams place on Wall.
Coming out of Xavier University in 2010, Jordan Crawford slipped all the way to the 27th overall pick, where he was taken by the New Jersey Nets. He would later be traded to the Atlanta Hawks. After having a decent first half of the season as Joe Johnson's backup, he would then be moved to the Washington Wizards, where he would serve as the team's sixth man. Crawford thrived in the role and developed a chemistry with fellow rookie John Wall. With the Wizards he averaged 16 points per game, along with four assists.
In a few years, this duo may be the most feared guard tandem in the league.
2. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry
Monta Ellis is one of the few success stories to be drafted in the second round. After opting to forgo all college eligibility and jump straight to the pros out of high school, not many general managers were high on the undersized guard. However, the Golden State Warriors took a chance on him early in the second round, and they have not regretted it. Ellis has turned into a star and last season was his best campaign to date, as he scored to the tune of 24 points per game.
However, over the last few seasons Ellis has been rumored to be expendable by the team, as the emergence of guard Stephen Curry has made him replaceable. Both Curry and Ellis have similar skill sets, however, the former Davidson star is much younger and more efficient.
Curry's tenure with the Warriors started in 2009 when he was drafted with the seventh overall pick. Curry made an immediate impact from the start and was awarded runner-up for NBA Rookie of the Year honors. He continued to build on his impressive rookie season and in his sophomore campaign he averaged a respectable 18 points per game.
Despite many experts believing that these two guards are not compatible together, the Golden State Warriors have made it work and they boast one of the premier young guard tandems in the association.
1. Russell Westbrook and James Harden
The future looks bright for the Oklahoma City Thunder with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook leading the way. But we all know the story around Kevin Durant's rise to fame, but what about the ridiculously talented and young guard tandem the Thunder boast.
Russell Westbrook, often thought of as Durant's sidekick, has become a star in his own right. After being drafted by the Thunder in 2008, Westbrook has made his presence known. In his rookie season he averaged 15 points per game along with five assists. However, this past season in the league was where Westbrook showed the world that the young guard has a bright future in this league. He was named to the Western Conference All-Star team and averaged a remarkable 22 points per game along with eight assists per game.
His partner in the back court, James Harden, also has had a fantastic career up to date. Coming off the bench most of last season, Harden was in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year Award after averaging more than twelve points on the season. However, his impact is not really reflected through stats. Harden is arguably Oklahoma City's best playmaker. Plus, he has improved his defense to the point where the Thunder assign Harden on the opposing team's best player.
If there is one team that is going to be dominant for the next decade, it is going to be the young Oklahoma City Thunder.