Which NBA Backcourt Added the Most Wins Last Season?
Ever since Dion Waiters and John Wall have publicly sparred over which city holds the title of best backcourt, the media has begun to play along as well. Fans and writers alike have been very vocal about which backcourt is best, and what sort of criteria - whether offense or defense is more important - should be used to judge such a thing.
What if we used an advanced statistic like basketball-reference.com's win shares? It has flaws, sure, but it might be the best "how many wins did player X add to his team" statistic that we currently have. Other advanced stats, like PER, for example, are per minute statistics, and can thus be inflated or deflated depending on minutes. Win shares, however, are cumulative, which works for a game like this.
Since win shares are cumulative, players will obviously be dinged for missing games. Russell Westbrook had the same amount of win shares as Jeff Teague this season. This is not saying they are equivalent players. Rather, Teague and Westbrook added the same amount wins to their respective teams. Using context - the fact that Teague played more games - helps illuminate the statistic even more.
Without further ado, here's the table of backcourt rankings. It's not perfect, as I had to use judgement in some of them. Courtney Lee is listed as the guard along with Mike Conley for the Grizzlies, although you probably will say that Tony Allen should be a part of the backcourt. However, Lee played more minutes at that spot than Allen did this year, so I gave him the nod. You'll see similar decisions with guys like Victor Oladipo, JJ Redick, Eric Bledsoe, and Patrick Beverley.
|1||Raptors||Kyle Lowry||DeMar DeRozan||20.5|
|2||Warriors||Stephen Curry||Klay Thompson||20.1|
|3||Trail Blazers||Damian Lillard||Wesley Matthews||17.8|
|4||Clippers||Chris Paul||Jamal Crawford||17.5|
|5||Rockets||Jeremy Lin||James Harden||17.2|
|6||Suns||Goran Dragic||Gerald Green||16.4|
|7||Pacers||George Hill||Lance Stephenson||15.2|
|8||Wizards||John Wall||Bradley Beal||11.9|
|8||Grizzlies||Mike Conley||Courtney Lee||11.9|
|10||Timberwolves||Ricky Rubio||Kevin Martin||11.2|
|10||Mavericks||Jose Calderon||Monta Ellis||11.2|
|12||Hawks||Jeff Teague||Kyle Korver||11.1|
|13||Bulls||Kirk Hinrich||Jimmy Butler||10.9|
|13||Nuggets||Ty Lawson||Randy Foye||10.9|
|15||Nets||Deron Williams||Joe Johnson||10.3|
|15||Heat||Mario Chalmers||Dwyane Wade||10.3|
|17||Thunder||Russell Westbrook||Reggie Jackson||10.1|
|17||Spurs||Tony Parker||Danny Green||10.1|
|19||Hornets||Kemba Walker||Gerald Henderson||8.7|
|20||Kings||Isaiah Thomas||Ben McLemore||8.5|
|21||Cavaliers||Kyrie Irving||Dion Waiters||8.3|
|22||Magic||Jameer Nelson||Arron Afflalo||8.1|
|23||Pistons||Brandon Jennings||Rodney Stuckey||6.1|
|24||Lakers||Kendall Marshall||Jodie Meeks||5.4|
|25||Pelicans||Brian Roberts||Eric Gordon||4.7|
|26||Knicks||Raymond Felton||Iman Shumpert||4.2|
|26||Celtics||Avery Bradley||Jordan Crawford||4.2|
|28||Bucks||Brandon Knight||Giannis Antetokounmpo||4.0|
|29||Jazz||Trey Burke||Richard Jefferson||3.6|
|30||76ers||Michael Carter-Williams||James Anderson||3.2|
It may be a bit surprising to the casual fan to find the Toronto Raptors duo atop these rankings, but they are indeed a formidable backcourt. In fact, they might be the best defensive duo in this group, unless you want to switch out Courtney Lee for Tony Allen and count the Grizz.
The Thunder are down at number 17, but that's pretty much because of Russell Westbrook missing extended time last season. If he had been his usual self, they would've slotted in about the six or seven range.
It's amazing that the Suns backcourt of Goran Dragic and Gerald Green were able to have so much production last season. If you had told any basketball analyst prior to the season that Eric Bledsoe would be out a significant chunk of the year, but Dragic and Green would still be the sixth-best backcourt, they would have thought you were crazy.
And regarding our confident friends in Cleveland -- well, they still have some work to do if they want to be considered one of the best. Irving and Waiters only combined for 8.3 win shares, which was several wins below their Washington counterparts. Perhaps the addition of LeBron James and Kevin Love, however, will raise everyone's game in Cleveland and they can get into the top-10. Until then, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan sit as kings.