The Best Young Backcourts In The NBA

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It keeps being said that the NBA is a guards’ league, so with that in mind, what are the best young backcourts in the NBA right now?

John Wall and Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Year-to-Year PER
John Wall: 15.8 – 17.7 – 20.8 – 19.5. Rank 35th
Bradley Beal: 13.6 – 14.3. Rank 156th

Together John Wall and Bradley Beal had somewhat of a breakout season and particularly postseason. The Wizards beat the favored Chicago Bulls in the first round and pushed the No. 1 seeded Indiana Pacers to six games in the conference semifinals. If a couple of bounces had gone the other way and a few open 3s had gone in, they might have found themselves in the conference finals. The Wizards have a couple of offseason questions they have to figure out about Trevor Ariza‘s and Marcin Gortat‘s free agency, but with this backcourt they should be poised to be competitive in the East for a long time.

Feb 1, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) smiles on the bench with Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 96-81. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall really took a step forward with his jumper; shooting 35.1 percent  from downtown, compared to 28.5 percent the year before while significantly increasing volume. Wall shot more than 400 more mid-range jumpers and 3s combined this year, basically five jumpers a game more while increasing accuracy.

A mark of 35.1 percent  isn’t great, but represents a massive jump from previous years and Wall’s development in shooting the basketball is vital to the Wizards; defenses respect his shot more and he can get into the lane and dish it out to corner 3-point shooters.

John Wall is statistically the No. 1 corner 3-point creator in the league. He’s so strong and fast driving to the hoop that he forces defenses sink into the paint in an effort to protect the rim. Wall does still need to improve in some tangible ways(shooting and attentiveness on defense mostly), but he is right on track to becoming a star.

Beal did a wonderful job in this year’s playoffs. He upped his efficiency from the regular season and was more aggressive getting to the foul line and grabbing rebounds. His PER is lower than you would expect because the metric calculates statistical efficiency and Beal doesn’t get to the line much, which impacts his true shooting percentage, something that he should and will continue to correct.

The way defenses overload the strong side nowadays, it’s very useful to have another player next to Wall who can run a pick and roll when the ball swings from side to side. Beal ranked only 111th in efficiency as the pick and roll ball handler per Synergy Sports and had a measly true shooting percentage (which takes into account 3s and free throws) of 50.7 percent (compare that to Stephen Curry, who is better than 60 percent). Strange for a player who is already such a prolific shooter.

Beal is one of the best mid-range shooters in the game, shooting well better than 40 percent from there, but he absolutely needs to get to the rim and free throw line more. Beal ranks 98th among guards in his percentage of points that come in the paint according to NBA.com, which is almost unheard of for a player that uses as many of his teams possessions as he does.

Most players with a similar rank are spot-up shooters like Anthony Morrow and Klay Thompson, and if Beal is expected to run tons of pick and roll he has to get into the lane more.

On this play Beal has a chance to turn the corner against Jonas Valanciunas, and he has to latch on to the opportunity to be more aggressive in getting to the hole and/or foul line. When he takes that next step we can seriously begin talking about him as an All-Star candidate.

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