The “Splash Brothers” will go down as one of the best back courts in NBA history, and even those with the hottest of hot takes will crown them the best backcourt in today’s NBA.
So who’s the second best backcourt in the league? Is it the Toronto Drakes’ pairing of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan? Hmm maybe. Both guards have improved immensely this season, and the Raptors look like they could be the second best team in the East. Last season, the John Wall–Bradley Beal pairing was the consensus second best backcourt, but due to inconsistent play and a recent injury to Beal, the Wiz’s up-and-coming duo may have fallen a few spots in the backcourt power rankings.
Rip City’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have catapulted themselves into the conversation this season, but it’ll probably be a few more years before they take their biggest steps to the top of the rankings. So who does that leave?
How about those boys in the desert? Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have pushed their way to the top of the list behind Steph and Klay, putting up All-Star worthy numbers in the process. The dynamic duo from Phoenix comes to Oracle Wednesday night, and viewers will be in for a treat as the two best backcourts in the league square off.
If you ask the casual NBA fan about Brandon Knight, they will bring up him being on the wrong end of numerous posters or the time Kyrie Irving made him do the cha-cha slide in the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge. However at 24 years old, Knight is one of the most versatile guards in the league, and he is just entering the prime of his career.
Dec 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) guards Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Suns acquired Knight from the Bucks last season at the deadline, who was averaging 18 points, four assists and five rebounds on 44% shooting as the No. 1 option in Milwaukee. The Suns obviously got the better end of this trade, as they signed Knight to a five-year extension and the Bucks ended up replacing Knight with Michael Carter-Williams. Yikes.
Unlike many of Bledsoe’s running mates in the past, Knight is a perfect complement to Bledsoe’s athletic, above-the-rim game. Knight can play on or off the ball and even though he is a streaky shooter, when he gets hot, he gets hot. Knight has three 17+ scoring 4th quarters this season, putting him in the elite company of James Harden, LeBron James, and Curry as the only players to have three-plus 17 or more point quarters in the NBA. Knight flourishes with the ball in his hands late in games, and even when his shot isn’t falling he’s going to continue to contribute on both ends.
On December 11 vs. the Blazers, Knight went 0-for-12 from the field, but he dished out 10 helpers and grabbed five boards as well as being active on the defensive end. The reason I’ll take Knight over other two guards like Beal and DeRozan is because when his shots aren’t falling, he’s not going to keep hoisting up shots until they start falling. He’s going to look to get teammates involved and help in other areas without hurting the flow of the game. Knight’s ability to do a little bit of everything makes him a threat to get a triple-double anytime he steps onto the court.
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Heading into this season, Bledsoe was the most underrated point guard in the league. Bledsoe came to the Suns after backing up Chris Paul his first few seasons, and he is now the face of Phoenix’s franchise. Remember when the Suns tried that 3-man guard rotation with Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and Bledsoe? That was a weird experiment, but there’s a reason the other two guards are gone and Bledsoe was handed the undisputed keys to the franchise.
Bledsoe is the most athletic point guard in the league not named Russell Westbrook, and his muscular physique and low center of gravity is one of the reasons he’s considered to be one of the best defensive point guards in the league. The Suns backcourt pairing is one of the most formidable on the defensive end in the league, so it will be interesting to see how they guard Steph and Klay.
The Suns backcourt of Kentucky products is young and on the rise. They both fill up the stat sheet and they’re both one of the better defenders at their respective positions. They have a ways to go before they try to dethrone the Splash Bros as the best backcourt, but they may not be as far behind as we think.
So far this season the backcourt in the desert is averaging 42.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 11.7 assists compared to Steph and Klay’s 50.2/8.9/8.5 statline. If the Suns are able to somehow stumble into the 8th seed by the end of the season, tomorrow might be a preview to a very intriguing backcourt duel in the first round of the playoffs.