Best guard tandems

Saints Rest

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I was in the car a lot yesterday, which meant a lot of time listening to NYC-based sports radio. I kept hearing people talking about Luka and Kyrie being "the greatest 'closer' guard pairing in history." Others simply said that they were the best guard tandem ever. So that got me thinking of who can compare.

Ideally, I'd like to look at this two ways: offensively and all-around.

I think we should eliminate pairs where one of the two was generally a forward/wing but could slide down to a guard position on occasion (e.g. Jordan/Pippen).

So who ya got?
 

Devizier

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Somewhere
Steph and Klay (2014-2017), probably across all measures.

Michael Jordan and Ron Harper for a more unbalanced selection.
 

BaseballJones

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Steph and Klay?

I wasn’t really of age to watch, but (by present standards) weren’t Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars awesome?
I mean, they're both hall of famers, so yeah, Thomas and Dumars were awesome.

Magic and Byron Scott were a great combo too. One is an inner circle all-time great and the other had an 8-year stretch where he averaged 17 points on basically 50% shooting.

Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney formed a great combo too, as Celtics fans well remember. But they weren't as good as the Detroit or Laker combo.

Stockton and Hornacek was a great combo too. One is a HOFer and the other was an all-star who had a 7-year stretch where he averaged 17 points and 5 assists on 50% shooting.
 

BaseballJones

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Long time ago but Cousy and Sam Jones was a pretty nice guard combo. Both all-time great players.
 

luckiestman

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Chris Paul and Devin Booker are both better than Mr Chemistry but neither are better than Luka so how much is the top guy allowed to carry the secondary guy. Jordan is a lot better than Luka so…

I have Splash Bros.
 

bankshot1

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Cousy and Sharman is the more natural pairing as is Sam with KC., and both those pairs fucking closed.

Knicks had a nice pair in Frazier and Monroe.

And before Luka and KI are crowned best closers ever, it seems fair to ask, of what?
 

InstaFace

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Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman. Shared the parquet for 10 seasons, from 51-52 to 60-61. In those 10 seasons:

Cousy: 10 straight All-NBA First Team, 1 MVP, 6x top-6 MVP finishes, 10x all-star. Led league in assists and assists per game 8 straight years. Hall of Fame.
Sharman: 4 straight All-NBA First Team, 3 years All-NBA Second Team, 2x top-7 MVP finishes, 8x all-star. Led league in FT% 7 of those 10 years. Hall of Fame.

The team: 4 championships (and Cousy continued for 2 more years / 2 more championships into the Russell Run)

Yeah it was an 8-team league back then, but they're kinda the ur-guard pair by which all future ones should be measured.
 

snowmanny

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DJ and Gus Williams were 2nd team all NBA the same year (1980) and also won a title together.
 

lovegtm

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Luka and Kyrie have won two playoff rounds.
Yeah, this is getting to "Ant = MJ" levels. Let's maybe get a bit more under their belts before we start comparing them to (e.g.) Steph and Klay.
 

reggiecleveland

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Gary Grant and Antoine Joubert
Chris Childs and Doug Usatilo
Kenny Anderson and Mark Price
I am assuming this is a college list.

I wasn’t really of age to watch, but (by present standards) weren’t Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars awesome?
They were incredible and underrated. One of them ran afoul the NIKE publicity department and will never get his due. They beat the Jordan Bulls with Laimbier as their best forward.
 

Smokey Joe

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They’ve played together for like just over a full season of basketball. 2 series and what is likely a finals appearance is pretty damn good no?
Why that’s almost exactly what Jrue Holiday and Derrick White have done. What a Coincidence!
 

lovegtm

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They’ve played together for like just over a full season of basketball. 2 series and what is likely a finals appearance is pretty damn good no?
It is. "Greatest closer guard pairing" is also silly, if we're talking about that timeframe.
 

Al Zarilla

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Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman. Shared the parquet for 10 seasons, from 51-52 to 60-61. In those 10 seasons:

Cousy: 10 straight All-NBA First Team, 1 MVP, 6x top-6 MVP finishes, 10x all-star. Led league in assists and assists per game 8 straight years. Hall of Fame.
Sharman: 4 straight All-NBA First Team, 3 years All-NBA Second Team, 2x top-7 MVP finishes, 8x all-star. Led league in FT% 7 of those 10 years. Hall of Fame.

The team: 4 championships (and Cousy continued for 2 more years / 2 more championships into the Russell Run)

Yeah it was an 8-team league back then, but they're kinda the ur-guard pair by which all future ones should be measured.
Not sure if you’re saying the Cousy/Sharman teams won championships before Russell showed up. They didn’t, and never even got to a finals. They were eliminated in the East for five years of the Cousy/Sharman backcourt, by either the Knicks or the Syracuse Nationals. Cousy and Sharman were great but the front court wasn’t and everything changed when Russell (and Heinsohn) joined the team for the 56/57 season and on.
 

jose melendez

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It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Maybe it's the most talented pair ever to go back there, but it's like heralding the 1996 Sox for fielding four MVPs.
 

cheech13

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It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Maybe it's the most talented pair ever to go back there, but it's like heralding the 1996 Sox for fielding four MVPs.
Is it any more talented than Harden/Kyrie from three years ago? I guess that backcourt only won playoff round instead of two.
 

Auger34

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The answer to this is Steph/Klay. I am surprised at the amount of times SVG kept saying it's Kyrie/Luka
 
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Mooch

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In terms of most feared backcourt as a Celtics fan? Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney.
 

jmcc5400

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James Silas and George Gervin (not quite, because Silas wrecked his knee before his NBA career began so their peaks didn't coincide, but wanted to give a great ABA pair a shout out).
 

PJ Martinez

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Seems like Luka basically plays the same position as LeBron. Right? In which case it's not clear why Luka and this version of Kyrie would be better than peak LeBron and 24-year-old Kyrie. Obviously the defensive gap is large, and not in Luka's favor.
 

BosoxFaninCincy

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James Silas and George Gervin (not quite, because Silas wrecked his knee before his NBA career began so their peaks didn't coincide, but wanted to give a great ABA pair a shout out).
I have been reading Loose Balls and I concur. I was thinking of Fly Williams and Freddie Lewis, but I digress. Honorable mention Cocaine era shout-out to Ray Williams and Michael Ray Richardson, and the contemporaries of Payton and Hawkins, Drexler and Terry Porter.
 

jmcc5400

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Was Gervin more a shooting guard or a small forward?
Gervin made second team all-ABA in 1974-1975 as a forward and Silas was a second team guard. In 1975-1976, Silas was a first team all-ABA as a guard and Gervin made the second team as a guard. Gervin's subsequent appearances on all-NBA teams was as a guard.

Gus Williams and DJ probably also deserve an honorable mention in this conversation.

(edit, beaten by @snowmanny)

(edit 2, to add something a little more substantive than their names. In the 1978-1979 finals, Gus Williams averaged 29 ppg and DJ (22.6 ppg) was the series MVP. Pretty impressive https://www.basketball-reference.com/playoffs/1979-nba-finals-supersonics-vs-bullets.html)
 
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reggiecleveland

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Was Gervin more a shooting guard or a small forward?
In that era he was a scorer plain and simple. If you talk to guys from 70s and 80s they will tell you if they had a pickup game they would pick Ice over Jordan. Before the game became three pointer or dunk and guys tried to score from all over he was the best.
 

Eric Fernsten's Disco Mustache

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This might get things thrown at me, but I think you gotta put Elgin Baylor and Jerry West up there somewhere. They had the misfortune to keep running into the Bill Russell Celtics with a revolving door center rotation of guys with names like Jim Krebs and Gene Wiley. But the backcourt of those Lakers teams was pretty epic.

Not at the top of the list by any stretch, but Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter deserve some love

Pure entertainment value? Give an honorable mention to White Chocolate and Peja (Stojakovic). Just don't expect them to play defense.
 

cheech13

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This might get things thrown at me, but I think you gotta put Elgin Baylor and Jerry West up there somewhere. They had the misfortune to keep running into the Bill Russell Celtics with a revolving door center rotation of guys with names like Jim Krebs and Gene Wiley. But the backcourt of those Lakers teams was pretty epic.

Not at the top of the list by any stretch, but Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter deserve some love

Pure entertainment value? Give an honorable mention to White Chocolate and Peja (Stojakovic). Just don't expect them to play defense.
Before my time, but I always thought Elgin Baylor was considered a forward.
 

Kliq

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Yeah Baylor was always a forward, and a power forward at that.
 

Eric Fernsten's Disco Mustache

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I always thought Elgin Baylor was considered a forward.
Yeah Baylor was always a forward, and a power forward at that.
So, positions didn't mean the same things back then that they came to mean in the 80s/90s, or then the 10s/20s

What if I told you that a player routinely dribbled the ball up the court, started possessions with the ball in his hands early in the shot clock, took the other teams' perimeter defenders off the dribble, and then scored with quickness and burst, by going around bigger players to daylight near the hoop? That part of the reason this player could do that was that they were considered a very good outside shooter for their day, and so people tried to play him tight to keep him from getting hot outside. And that he more or less never posted up, rarely played with his back to the basket (other than to shield his dribble as part of a drive), and his team almost never ran plays designed for him to receive a pass below the free throw line and then create separation from there.

My memory of Baylor was that he had big shoulders and built like a brick wall. Like a version of DJ but maybe a couple of inches taller. So, the Lakers often used him to defend big forwards (like Heinsohn). Kinda like how we used Smart to defend big men. But the guy's game was all shooting guard. At least that's how I saw it.

I'm not too invested in this, so call Baylor what you will.

FWIW, here are some highlights

View: https://youtu.be/Y8DOIbbOcwk?si=cSZueR5spkrA5o8A
 

Ale Xander

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HM From the early 90’s:
Kevin Johnson Dan Majerle
Terry Porter Clyde Drexler

Also thr 96-98 Suns I believe had the great collection of Pg’s at the same time
 

bankshot1

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Baylor was a forward. Period.

I honored the OP request not to talk about hybrids, but John Havlicek, at 6'5" was a legit G/F and an all time great, on both sides of the ball, when paired with Sam Jones made for a superb candidate for best ever guards.