Today the two best teams in the NBA’s Pacific Division feature the two best backcourts in the NBA, but which backcourt is better?
Let’s think about the shooting guards first. Both Thompson and Redick can shoot from any spot on the floor. Both are underrated pick-and-roll players and stellar off-ball. According to SynergySports, the Warriors score when running players off screens better than any other team in the league, and a lot of that is thanks to Thompson. When Thompson focuses in, he is fully capable of guarding 1’s, 2’s and 3’s in one-on-one situations. His length and anticipation for the ball has improved each season and adds to his value for the Warriors. Redick, though not as good as Thompson defensively, is no slouch. Compare Redick to Clippers reserve shooting guard Jamal Crawford and Redick looks like Tony Allen on the defensive end.
Paul and Curry are similar in many ways. Paul is the epitome of a true point guard. He is an incredible distributor. He controls the tempo of the game exceptionally well. He can finish in traffic and has a deadly pullup game. The list goes on and on. He has an elite basketball IQ and is a ferocious defender when he is asked to lock up.
That last point is where Paul truly excels over Curry. Both are stellar offensive players, but Paul is a far better defensive player than Curry. One of the Warriors biggest defensive flaws is their pick-and-roll defense. Curry struggles contesting the shots of the ball-handler. By contrast, Paul and his Clippers are far better at defending pick-and-rolls. Curry has made it clear that he hopes to improve defensively, but his individual defense is suspect at best. Curry loves pushing the ball after the opposing team makes a basket, but more times than not it is Curry’s fault that the other team has scored.
Don’t get me wrong, Curry has improved his defense since coming into the NBA, but compared to Paul, his defense is mediocre at best.
Even though Thompson is a better defender than Redick, the difference between Paul’s defensive acumen and Curry’s defense is too large for the Warriors backcourt to overcome.