Fresh off their impressive showing from NBA All-Star Weekend’s opening two days, John Wall and Bradley Beal have firmly established themselves as players to watch going forward as the basketball season carries on. Beal’s 21 points in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge and his runner up finish in the Three-Point shootout added a little more spotlight to the 20-year-old shooting guard’s portfolio.
Wall’s popularity has already been firmly established since his days of running fast breaks as a University of Kentucky Wildcat. But this weekend’s events highlighted what many fans around the Washington, D.C. area have already come to acknowledge: This backcourt has a bright future and might already be the best in the league. But despite thriving backcourts in Golden State, Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers, for example, is Washington’s duo the best guard tandem in the league? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: Wall and Beal have already established themselves as an up and coming pair and they’re pretty deadly when they’re both on. Shouldering the Wizards to their first playoff series and hopefully a win in the opening round is going to take some strong play from the two but they’re both at a point in their careers where they can excel if they’re both playing their A games. They are the best backcourt in the league, hands down, already. Golden State’s duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson has a right to argue but if I’m scanning the league for the best combination of point guard and shooter then I’m looking squarely at the Wizards. Wall and Beal both compliment each other better than any tandem in the league with Wall seeking for the assists and Beal spotting up to knock down shots. When you add in Wall’s athleticism and both his and Beal’s potential, they have the look of a Joe Dumars/Isiah Thomas makeup.
Green: Portland’s duo of Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews both excite and even the Clippers’ Chris Paul and J.J. Redick with Jamal Crawford coming off the bench have strong arguments. The Wizards’ backcourt obviously made a strong impression over the weekend but let’s not that cloud our impressions over the other backcourts in the NBA. If it was up to me to decide, I would take Golden State’s backcourt over everyone. Stephen Curry is currently the best point guard in the NBA, and Klay Thompson is the most pure shooting-guard in the game. So while Washington may have an impressive backcourt for their young age, they’re certainly not the best.
Riley:: First glance is going to tell you that Paul and Lillard are better than Wall but when you’re looking at numbers then it’s pretty even. Wall’s in the top five amongst point guards in assists, points per game, blocks, steals and rebounds so I wouldn’t be so quick to suggest that any point guard is “clearly” or “obviously” better than him. Beal’s been set back a few times this season by injury but when he’s on his game and healthy he showcases the skill set and the shooting that suggests a long and prosperous NBA career. The debate will go on this season but I’m already set in my belief. By next season however judging by both players’ progression, it shouldn’t be any doubt in the league who the best guard tandem is or will be going forward.
Green: Look, I’m a big John Wall fan. I loved the kid since he was at Kentucky and I think he is easily the best point guard in the East right now. But he’s not better than the guys out west. Wall is averaging 20 points and nearly 9 assists per game, very impressive. But Curry is averaging nearly 23.5 points with nearly 9 assists per game. Clearly, the latter is better. Maybe in a couple years, Wall will have surpassed Curry, but not right now.
And as for Beal, well, let’s just say he’s not even close to being one of the top shooting guards in the NBA. Beal is averaging 17 points on 16 shots per game. That’s not impressive, man. Even Richard Sherman would call that mediocre production. Klay Thompson out in Golden State is averaging 18.3 points on 15 shots per game. In other words, he’s scoring more points on fewer shots per game than Beal is. What more evidence do you need to realize the Wizards’ backcourt just isn’t as good as Golden State’s?