Where Does the Wizards Backcourt Rank Amongst the League’s best?

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 02: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards drives towards the basket on Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during an NBA Basketball game at ORACLE Arena on April 2, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 02: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards drives towards the basket on Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during an NBA Basketball game at ORACLE Arena on April 2, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the most dynamic guard duos in the league. It’s also no secret that they feel like they’re the best backcourt in the NBA, and they’ve been saying so for the past few years. After a career season for both Wall and Beal, where exactly do they rank?

Gone are the days when the NBA was dominated by big men. The league has gradually shifted to a smaller, perimeter-oriented blueprint based on athleticism and shooting.

While team basketball will never lose its importance, much more focus and significance is now put on star players. Luckily, the Wizards are positioned well for success behind one of the better combos in the NBA: John Wall & Bradley Beal. 

It took a few years for the two players to fully mesh, in large put due to injuries, but last year it all came together. While they fell short of their ultimate goal, Wall and Beal combined to lead the Wizards to one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. While they’re confident in proclaiming their place atop the backcourt hierarchy in the NBA, they face some steep competition. 

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Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been widely-regarded as the best backcourt in the NBA for the past few seasons, even after the acquisition of Kevin Durant. While they’ve had their playoff struggles, Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan form an dynamic tandem for the Toronto Raptors. These two, along with Wall & Beal, make up the three best backcourts in the NBA.

Where do they stand in the most important areas? Below is the combined statistics for the backcourt that has the advantage in scoring, playmaking, and shooting efficiency.

Scoring: Lowry & DeRozan  (49.7 PPG) 

Playmaking: Wall & Beal  (14.2 APG)

Shooting Efficiency: Curry & Thompson  (46.8 FG%, 41.3 3PT%, 87.5 FT%) 

On the surface, it appears to be very close, with each backcourt having the advantage in a different category. It’s no surprise that Curry and Thompson, two of the best shooters of all time, rank ahead of their counterparts in shooting percentages across the board. It’s also expected that the Wizards backcourt would lead in assists per game when they have John Wall, arguably the best passer in the game today. 

While Lowry and DeRozan surprisingly have the edge in combined scoring, deficiencies in their resume make them them number three on this list. DeRozan is a great player, but he has two glaring flaws in his game: shooting and defense. These are two of the most important skills in today’s NBA, and DeRozan is both a below-average shooter and defender. Kyle Lowry is actually a plus in both of these areas. However, both players have a tendency to underperform in the playoffs, which sets them back amongst the NBA’s elite. 

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Thus, the “Splash Bros” and “House of Guards” are the best two backcourts in the NBA. Steph Curry & Klay Thompson have held the title of best backcourt for several seasons. So, the question is, have Wall & Beal done enough to take it from them? 

With both coming off career seasons, it’s as close as it’s ever been. It wasn’t until just recently we saw how special Wall & Beal can truly be. When they’re both clicking and feeding off of each other, they are capable of amazing things. Watch Game 6 against Atlanta in the playoffs if you need evidence. At just 26 and 24 years old, they have youth on their side. In the next couple of years, they’ll likely seize the crown from Steph & Klay. 

But they’re not quite there yet. 

Stephen Curry is arguably the greatest shooter of all-time, and Klay is only a few spots behind him. The ability of both to take over games in a hurry makes them special. They have championship pedigree, and they’ve proven capable of leading a team to a championship. Wall and Beal hope to reach this feat soon. 

One key aspect is holding them back; defense. Klay Thompson is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. While Steph has an unwarranted reputation of being a minus defender to his athletic limitations, he’s a very solid defender in his own right. He’s near the top of the league in steals and has a high basketball IQ, routinely in the right place at the right time.

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Just a few years removed from being All-NBA defense, John Wall has the potential to be an elite defensive player. And to a lesser extent, so does Bradley Beal. Talent and athletic ability are unquestionable. It’s effort and consistency that hold them back.

Kobe Bryant recently issued a “First team all-defense” challenge to John Wall on Twitter. To which Wall responded “Say no more”. This comes after Wall voiced displeasure in being left off either of the all-defensive teams this past season, and videos surfaced of him locking up James Harden and Chris Paul in an offseason charity game. 

Next: How John Wall Makes First Team NBA All-Defense

If Wall and Beal can truly maximize their potential on the defensive end, while continuing to make strides offensively, there’s no question they’ll grasp the title of best backcourt in the NBA. But for now, they’ll remain second fiddle to the Splash Brothers.