Anytime the Warriors are on national TV, it feels as though there’s a conversation about the best backcourts in NBA history.
There’s a good reason for that: Golden State is home to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, one of the league’s most dynamic duos who have spent the last decade shattering records and competing for championships.
There’s no doubt that Curry and Thompson form one of the best backcourts we’ve ever seen, but are they the best?
To answer that question, five members of our Sporting News staff — Gilbert McGregor, Micah Adams, Carlan Gay, Jordan Greer and myself — ranked who they believe are the 10 best backcourts in NBA history. We then used a point system — 10 points for a first-place finish, 9 points for a second-place finish, 8 points for a third-place finish, and so on — to come up with the following list.
Don’t like our list? Let us know!
The 10 best backcourts in NBA history
10. Chris Paul and James Harden, Rockets
Their time together was short-lived, but the Rockets went a combined 118-46 in the two seasons Paul and Harden were teammates. Their crowning achievement was pushing a Warriors team built around four all-time talents in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green to seven games in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. Had a hamstring injury not cost Paul the last two games of the series, both of which the Rockets lost, perhaps they would’ve advanced to the Finals.
9. Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, Lakers
Bryant and Fisher won five titles during their time as teammates on the Lakers. An 18-time All-Star with two Finals MVP awards and one MVP award, Bryant’s accomplishments speak for themselves, but Fisher was the Lakers’ starting point guard for four of the five championships they won together and became known for his crunch-time heroics. A career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter, Fisher proved to be an ideal running mate for Bryant in the backcourt.
8. Michael Jordan and Ron Harper, Bulls
Harper was a different player when he joined the Bulls. Whereas he started his career as a go-to scorer, he became a specialist playing next to Jordan in Chicago, reinventing himself as a lockdown perimeter defender. Starting at point guard, Harper played a key role in Chicago’s second threepeat. As for Jordan, well, he edged out LeBron James for the No. 1 spot in SN’s greatest peaks series. He had himself a decent career. No disrespect to Harper, but let’s be honest… you could probably pick any fan from the stands, slot them next to No. 23 and we’d have them ranked inside the top 10.
7. Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, Knicks
Both Frazier and Monroe found their way onto the NBA’s 75th anniversary team. Monroe was already a two-time All-Star by the time he joined the Knicks in 1971, but he earned two more playing next to Frazier, who racked up a total of seven All-Star appearances in his Hall of Fame career. Frazier (21.9) and Monroe (16.1) were New York’s leading scorers in the team’s championship run in 1973.
6. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Spurs
Parker and Ginobili are two pillars of one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. Parker was one of the best point guards in the league in his prime, earning six All-Star selections and a Finals MVP award in 2008. Though Ginobili came off the bench for most of his career, he’s one of the best sixth men in league history and often closed games alongside Parker and Tim Duncan. Parker and Ginobili won four championships together in San Antonio.
5. Magic Johnson and Byron Scott, Lakers
The Showtime Lakers were powered by their All-Star trio of Magic, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Scott was an important part of three of their championships. He led the Lakers in scoring with a career-best 21.7 points per game during the 1987-88 season. He then averaged 19.6 points per game in the playoffs, helping Los Angeles earn its third championship in four seasons.
4. Bob Cousy and Sam Jones, Celtics
Between 1957 and 1969, the Celtics won 11 championships. Cousy and Jones were teammates for five of those title runs. Cousy, who led the league in assists in eight consecutive seasons, once said that “Sam and Bill Sharman are probably most responsible for me getting into the Hall of Fame because whenever I’d throw them the ball, they’d put it in the damn hole.” Like Frazier and Monroe, both Cousy and Jones made the NBA’s 75th anniversary team.
3. Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, Lakers
In 2015, NBA lifer Pat Riley said Curry and Thompson were the “two most dynamic players in the backcourt” he had seen since West and Goodrich. Between 1970-74, West averaged 24.6 points (on 47.9 percent shooting from the field) and 9.0 assists per game to Goodrich’s 23.2 points (on 46.6 percent shooting) and 4.7 assists per game. West and Goodrich led the Lakers in scoring in their title run in 1972, the lone championship of their careers.
2. Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, Pistons
Led by Thomas and Dumars, the Pistons defeated the Lakers in the 1989 NBA Finals to win the franchise’s first championship. They followed it up by taking down the Trail Blazers in 1990 to go back-to-back. The rest of the 90s were dominated by Jordan and the Bulls, but the Bad Boy Pistons proved to be Jordan’s greatest rival early in his career.
Thomas is one of the greatest point guards of all time and Dumars earned six All-Star, five All-Defensive and three All-NBA selections in his career.
1. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Warriors
Surprise! Curry and Thompson are widely regarded as the two-best shooters in NBA history. Together, they laid the foundation for one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, resulting in five straight trips to the Finals and three championships for Golden State. In 2015-16, Curry and Thompson played a central role in the Warriors posting a 73-9 record, setting an NBA record for wins in a season.
The scary part? Curry and Thompson’s story together is still being written.