NBA West Playoff Race: Starting Backcourts


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The season is set to wind down in the coming weeks with the Dallas Mavericks (46-31), Memphis Grizzlies (45-31), and Phoenix Suns (45-31) still battling it out for final two spots in the West.

Starting backcourt | Front courtBench

Safe to say there is plenty of talent at the starting guard spots for these teams.

Dallas Mavericks

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  • Jose Calderon: 11.6 points, 45.2% 3pt, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers
  • Monta Ellis: 18.7 points, 44.8% fg, 5.8 assists, 1.75 steals, and 3.2 turnovers

Though both are polar opposites in their styles of play, these two have complimented each other very well this season. Calderon’s knack for hitting shots, spreading the court, and taking care of the ball is the perfect blend to Ellis’s ability to break down the defense and high risk high reward style of play. These two have also meshed well with star Dirk Nowitzki.

As formidable as this tandem is on the offensive end, these two offer very little resistance on the defensive side. Calderon’s lack of speed and Ellis’s short stature for a shooting guard leave these two at physical disadvantages to their counterparts.

The Mavericks didn’t bring in the duo for their defense, so the pressure is on for these two to hit shots, break down the defense, and take care of the ball to offset what they  don’t offer on the defensive end.

Memphis Grizzlies

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  • Mike Conley: 17.2 points, 44.1% fg, 6 assists, 1.51 steals, 2.1 turnovers
  • Courtney Lee: 11.3 points, 49% fg, 35% 3pt, 1.02 steals, 1.9 turnovers

With the Grizzlies slow it down and pound the ball inside style, Conley gives the offense a much-needed diversity as a perimeter threat. The only reliable perimeter playmaker, his is capable of creating for himself and others, which is needed to keep opposing defenses from primarily focussing on Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Lee has given the team a perimeter shooting threat at the shooting guard spot after being brought in from the Boston Celtics and displacing Tony Allen in the starting lineup. With Lee on the court, Conley, Randolph, and Gasol have more room to operate.

As important as their offense is to the team, their defense is also vital. Though it isn’t ideal for them to struggle on the offensive end, they still can have an impact on the game due to how they alter the other side of the court.

Phoenix Suns

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  • Eric Bledsoe: 17.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.49 steals, 3.2 turnovers
  • Goran Dragic: 20.4 ponts, 50.7% fg, 5.9 assists, 1.33 steals, 2.8 turnovers

One of the more versatile and explosive starting guards tandem in the NBA, these two have been huge in turning the expected to tank Suns into a playoff contender. With Bledsoe a physical specimen and Dragic as crafty as they get, these two are nightmares for opposing teams. No other players on the roster can score or create as these two, but a case can be made for Gerald Green.

Bledsoe’s strength, speed, and athleticism make him a tough matchup on both sides of the court. Sadly, he has just played in just 37 games to this point (25-12) due to a knee injury suffered early on in the season. His struggles shooting from the perimeter can result in teams sagging off of him to cut off his drives.

In a span of four seasons, Dragic has went from begin probably the worst backup point in the NBA to one of the best. Whether it’s on the drive or spotting up, he can score from all spots on the court. At just 6’3″, opposing teams may be able to exploit his size with larger shooting guards.