Where Does The Phoenix Suns Backcourt Rank Among the NBA’s Best?

Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul, Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul, Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns backcourt compared to the upper-middle tier

Across this level sits three backcourts, all clawing and scratching at the coveted top tier. For now, only one or two intangibles stop them reigning above the rest. An argument can certainly be made to raise each one, but at the end of the day, you need to draw a line somewhere.

Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Luka Doncic lacks a definitive position, but frequently plays along the wing or as a primary ball-handler, making him a backcourt piece one way or another. But what Doncic does have is a near-unstoppable offensive game. He averaged 27.7 points per contest for the Mavericks last year, and most expect him to contend for the MVP next season.

Tim Hardaway Jr. just re-signed with Dallas following a season where he averaged an admirable 16.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Doncic comes as the first player to grace this list wholly better than both Booker and Paul, but Hardaway Jr. stands incredibly foreign to such statements.

Like with several other backcourt’s already listed, one player can bring down a duo when compared to the Suns given Phoenix’s high talent at both positions. Hardaway Jr. does that here.

It makes sense to keep the ball in Doncic’s hands a much as possible, so a middle-tier player like Hardaway Jr. makes sense for the Mavericks to hold onto going forward. But for an argument exclusively based around a team’s backcourt, Hardaway Jr. keeps the Mavericks firmly separated from the Suns.

Los Angeles Clippers – Reggie Jackson and Paul George

Kawhi Leonard’s injury might force Paul George back into the small forward spot for the foreseeable future, but he remains LA’s shooting guard when the team stands at full strength. Despite his inconsistencies though, George remains a bonafide NBA star, who frequently finds himself dancing around both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Last year, George averaged 23.3 points and a career-high 5.2 assists per game. Reggie Jackson struggled to find his footing during the regular season, but revitalized his career while averaging 17.8 points per game during the playoffs.

But even with all this, we just witnessed this backcourt go head to head with the Suns, and even though Deandre Ayton played a large part in Phoenix’s eventual series victory against the Clippers, Booker and Paul still lead the charge. That pretty much seals this one for the Suns.

Utah Jazz – Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell

The Utah Jazz backcourt falls behind Phoenix’s only by razor sharp margins. Mike Conley averaged a career-high 3-pointers made at 2.7 per game last year, hitting them also at a career-high 41.2 percent. Donovan Mitchell declared himself a true NBA superstar this postseason as well, averaging the fourth most points at 32.3 per game.

With an aging, but still crafty point guard and a young shooting guard who brings game-breaking scoring abilities as well as a notable competitive edge to the table, Utah’s backcourt mirrors Phoenix’s almost perfectly.

But with so many similarities, the more specific statistics highlight distinctions. When you stack them up under the microscope that is advanced analytics, the Suns ever so slightly edge out the Jazz.

Last year, Utah’s backcourt combined to form a 57.9 true shooting percentage, but Phoenix slightly surpassed them with its 59.3 true shooting percentage. The Phoenix backcourt also finished with a higher assist-to-turnover ratio at 5.39, compared to Utah’s at 4.96.

The Jazz indeed take the cake on the floor’s other end, with their backcourt combining to form a slightly higher defensive rating, but Utah played a much more team-oriented brand of defense last season, captained by Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert. With that advantage considered, it makes their defensive numbers look slightly inflated, putting greater emphasis on the stats leaning Phoenix’s way and naming them the better backcourt.