Here’s a breakdown of the top five starting backcourts heading into this season. Check back Friday for the top starting frontcourts.
In a down year last season, Williams still posted a player efficiency rating (PER) of 20.38, averaging 18.9 points and 7.7 assists per game. This will be the second year he plays alongside Johnson in the backcourt. Johnson may not be as complete a player as Williams, but he’s one of three one-on-one players the Nets have (Paul Pierce as well) that can cause mismatches for defenders. Both Williams and Johnson are bigger guards who can post up smaller players and both can create for others as well. With Pierce and Kevin Garnett joining the rotation, the duo’s numbers might not be as high as last year, but their efficiency will be.
Offensively, Curry showed in the playoffs last year that he can do it all, and now he pairs with Iguodala, who can pretty much do it all on the other side of the court as one of the league’s top perimeter defenders. Instead of starting a spot-up shooter next to Curry in Klay Thompson, who relies on others for his shots, Iguodala gives the Warriors another athletic slasher who can get to the rim and finish in transition. Curry shot 45 percent from the 3 last season with 3.5 makes a game. Iguodala only shot the 3 at 31 percent, but that is where Thompson can help off the bench. Either way, this backcourt should shine in its first season together.
Harden emerged as a superstar in the making in his first season in Houston, finishing in the top five in scoring at 25.9 points per game. Lin’s play and his numbers were not as exciting as they were in New York, though that was largely due to a new system and new teammates. With a plethora of shooters the Rockets have and now Dwight Howard in the middle, Lin will likely become a pass-first point guard, mainly executing the pick-and-roll. Between Harden’s scoring and Lin’s passing, the Rockets are poised to be one of the top scoring teams once again this season.
The Wizards have playoff expectations this season and Wall and Beal are the two players who can lead them there. Wall just signed a new contract so you can bet the house that there will be pressure on him to perform. Beal finished third in scoring among all rookies last season and has a solid all-around offensive game. Where these two can really shine, though, is playing off of each other in transition, because Wall is like a blur with the ball in his hands and Beal can either spot up or attack the rim.
No one knows when Kobe will return from the Achilles injury and Nash is considered a grandfather in the NBA at 40 years old. And yet, the Lakers have a shot to make the playoffs if Kobe is anywhere near the player he was last year and if Nash can stay healthy in the Mike D’Antoni system. Kobe continues to defy all odds for a player of his age and years in the league, averaging 27.3 points at 34 years old. Now, he’s focusing on returning for opening night. Nash can still be an effective distributor, averaging close to seven assists per game and shooting 43 percent from the 3.