There was a lot of player movement in the NBA this season, so it’s time to re-evaluate every team’s backcourt and determine the best one.
If a team does not have a player that has the capability to protect the basketball and advance it up the court, then the opportunity for success is extremely limited. Point guard is the most important position in the game, they have the ball in their possession the majority of the time on offense and everybody else on the court is not getting the ball unless the point guard chooses. Defensively, they are saddled with defending the most important player on the court, the opposing point guard. While forwards and centers play their roles on a basketball court, teams typically go as far as the point guard can take them.
Unlike any other position in basketball, the shooting guard’s responsibility is in its name, they have to be able to shoot. While their ball handling is a benefit, their primary responsibility is to make open shots. A knockdown shooter enables an offense to spread out the defense to either prevent the post from being double teamed or to leave space for the point guard to penetrate to the basket.
The most successful teams typically have the best combination of point guard and shooting guard in the league, which highlights their importance. As we countdown to the projected best duo for the 2019-20 season, guards like Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas are still free agents could provide an upgrade, but it will not concern the top teams in the league, for they already have their dynamic duos.
30: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina / Courtney Lee
With Jarrett Jack still unsigned as a free agent and not expected to return to New York, Frank Ntilikna will undoubtedly exceed the 9 starts of his rookie season.
As a point guard, Ntilikina he averaged 3 assists, and 31% of his shots were from the 3 point line.
His inability to get to the basket is also shown by him only drawing six ‘and 1’s”. Lee will provide secondary ball handling and his 9 years of experience will be an asset as he spreads the floor with his 40% 3-point shooting.
29: Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley / Ben McLemore
Concerns about Conley playing just 12 games in 2017-18 aside, the backcourt of the 30-year-old and Ben McLemore is not effective. During his career, Conley has committed almost double the turnovers via bad pass then all other ways combined. With a 34 three-point percentage Mclemore was not the clear starter in 2017-18. With the departure of Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers yet to sign, any combination involving; Wayne Seldon, Andrew Harrison, and Dillion Brooks does not instill any confidence. They need Avery Bradley.
28: Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young / Kent Bazemore
With Dennis Schroder sent to Oklahoma City in the recent Carmelo Anthony deal, rookie Trae Young is now projected to be in the Hawks’ starting lineup, even though he’s unlikely to be ready for that role.
Bazemore is set to make over $18 million so he can take three-pointers 39% of the time in order to average 13 points.
Needless to say, the only thing worse than the 99 passes that resulted in turnovers by Bazemore, is the 112 by Schroder.
27: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr./ Luka Doncic
The 19-year-old Doncic is set to be the next franchise player. Starting a rookie is never ideal (Kobe Bryant started 6 games his rookie year), but, the Mavericks have nothing to lose and nothing to choose. Even if Yogi Ferrell is resigned, there is no benefit to Doncic playing behind him, as Dennis Smith Jr. improves upon his 15 point 5 assist rookie campaign. Despite the Doncic trade ‘speeding up’ the rebuilding process, their backcourt will have just 1 year of NBA experience.
It looked for a while like the Magic would’ve upgraded their back court, but Isaiah Thomas instead decided to go to Denver, leaving the Magic with a back court consisting of D.J. Augustin, Jonathon Simmons and Evan Fournier.
Simmons only played 69 games due to wrist surgery, but his stats per 100 team possessions is a huge benefit.
Needless to say, the Magic didn’t do enough this offseason to upgrade their backcourt and will face their share of struggles this season.
25: Detroit Pistons: Reggie Jackson / Luke Kennard
Jackson played just 45 games, including the last 12 of the season. Always a point guard Jackson assisted on 32% of the points scored while he was on the court, and kept the defense honest by making 51% of his field goals between 10-16 feet. Kennard shot 42% of his field goals from beyond the arc on his way to average 7 points in his rookie season. The 39-43 Pistons can count on their backcourt being better, but still not close to the best in the league.