GDHQNBA15_f-Backcourts 4

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7.4 apg were his second-highest career number. The Raptors are on the move, and this backcourt is the biggest reason why. This backcourt’s low Q rating might be why they’re regularly overlooked (the recent emergence of veteran Lowry might be another), but like Toronto and Canadian basketball altogether, the duo is making waves to be recognized. #WeTheNorth applies very much to the Lowry/DeRozan tandem. 2. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler The big news over the summer was that Rose was back and completely ready for action. Although he didn’t play all that much in the FIBA World Cup tourney, he made some pretty good players look pretty bad during practice sessions and appears ready to mount a strong challenge to regain Best Point Guard in the Game status he held in 2011 when he was named the League’s MVP. Anybody who saw him tear through all five Cavaliers during a preseason game knows that’s true. But Rose is all about the moment now, in terms of doing the right thing at the right time. During the offseason, he spoke of watching so much tape with coach Tom Thibodeau that he could become “an assistant coach somewhere.” Rose isn’t ready for full-time bench work. He is, however, capable of running the game even more successfully than ever. “My game is developing into a controlled one,” he told reporters in the summer. “I’m using my speed whenever I need to, and I’m playing a more relaxed game now.” Butler, meanwhile, is a defensive terror who is developing into a more potent scorer. His shot needs work, but with Rose at full power, Butler should have more open opportunities than ever, and the Bulls should be mighty dangerous. If Butler can put up more points—and every indication is that he is very capable—expect the Bulls to flaunt a balanced backcourt that is equally potent on both ends of the court. 1. Golden State Warriors: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson If the Warriors began each home game with the blare of air-raid sirens, it would make perfect sense, since Curry and Thompson make up the League’s most dangerous long-range tandem. Both can bury the jumper from parts unknown on the court, and each is becoming a more complete player as time moves on. Last year, Curry posted a career-high 8.5 apg to go with his 24.0 ppg, also his best ever. He has gone from a shoot-first gunner to a more complete point man, and that development should help the Warriors grow into contenders in the next couple seasons. Thompson, meanwhile, is a pure marksman, as evidenced by his 41.8 percent three-point success. And many aren’t just the open spotup looks afforded by Curry’s kick-outs or off a double-team; there are plenty of earned, defender-in-face shots. Over the summer the duo put on the “USA” on their chest, playing together at the gold-getting FIBA World Cup. This year, under new coach Steve Kerr, look for Thompson to be even more dangerous, as he acclimates to a new offense and improves his shot selection. “Klay is at the point in his career where he’s very close to being an All-Star,” Kerr told ESPN.com. That’s not hard to believe at all. Curry, of course, is already there. If judged on just shooting, they lap the field. But the Splash Brothers are much more than just a pair of pretty jumpshots, the two have improved greatly on defense. Curry uses his quickness and smarts to thief away balls while Thompson is no easy mathcup for opposing two guards. Together, the pair’s dangerous offensive production coupled with their above average defense, makes them pretty damn good. Good enough to be the top backcourt in the League. Andrew D. Bernstein; Thearon Henderson/NBAE/Getty Images


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