A long time ago, in a seemingly parallel universe, the Washington Wizards were the fiercest of rivals with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron James would duel the league's top scorer in Gilbert Arenas, and the King would come out on top.
This was the first of three consecutive series. Over the course, Lebron was called "overrated" by Deshawn Stephenson and responded by saying it was like Jay Z, the famous Brooklyn rap artist whose total earnings amount to $60 million according to Forbes, getting dissed by Soulja boy, who many dismiss as a one hit wonder artist.
That same rivalry may be coming back.
On Monday, all 30 NBA teams hosted the league's annual media day. In Washington DC, Bradley Beal made headlines by saying the Wizards are "definitely the best backcourt in the league", referring to himself and running-mate John Wall.
This did not sit well with Cleveland shooting guard Dion Waiters. Waiters, the former 3rd overall pick from Syracuse, never lacks in confidence, as can be shown by when earlier this summer he stated he would not come off the bench if the team kept Andrew Wiggins (who was traded for Kevin Love), and took great offense.
In response to Beal's claim, Waiters retorted, "That's nonsense. He's supposed to say that, but I know deep down, he's not messing with me and Ky (Kyrie Irving). I think me and Ky are the best backcourt, young backcourt. That's all."
Waiters' White Lie
Last year, Waiters and Irving did not back up their case. You cannot be the best backcourt in the league if you do not make the playoffs in the East. You know, the conference where you can have 38 wins to 44 losses and still qualify for the top 8.
The Cavaliers finished 10th in the Eastern conference. Both Irving and Waiters put up good points per game numbers, but both were lacking in the assist category. Kyrie averaged almost 21 points and about 6 assists with a 20.1 PER and would let his immense talents shine in the All-Star Game, winning All-Star MVP.
Waiters averaged almost 16 points but only tallied about 3 assists a game with a below-average 14.1 PER. His role on the team was a minute-heavy sub. Sturdy individual stats like those make you question how Cleveland won a measly 33 games.
Bradley Beal is better than Dion Waiters. His PER is only .2 better but he is a good on ball defender and very physical. Some of his more impressive totals were the 17 points a night and 40% shooting from 3-point range. His partner in crime, John Wall, put up some impressive games. Starting all 82 games, the former Kentucky Wildcat averaged 19 points and 8.8 assists, second in the league.
Regardless of whether they're the best, this is the fastest and most athletic backcourt in the league. Both players can explode to the net and really run a fast break. More importantly, the Wizards finished 4th in the East, above most notably the Nets and Bulls. The Wizards look set for another good season after retaining all of their big pieces apart from Trevor Ariza, who was adequately replaced by The Truth, Paul Pierce.
Wizards Win Out
The simple truth is that the Wizards' backcourt is better than the Cavs'. Stats-wise or record-wise, the Wizards win. Defensively, they are so much more solid as well, although that is in part due to the aptitude of their other teammates at that end. However, next year might make the Cavs backcourt appear different. Why? The likes of Kevin Love and Lebron James have a knack of making teammates look really, really good.
However, neither of these teams are the best backcourt in the NBA. Try out the Golden State Warriors courtesy of the Splash Brothers. They averaged 42 combined points per game and Curry threw in 8.5 dimes to go with that, contributing to his PER of over 24. And they won games. The Cavs can't be considered the best backcourt if they can't make the playoffs in the East. And the Warriors had 7 more wins than the Wizards.
Steph Curry has already made the argument that he and Thompson are the best backcourt multiple times, so we won't go over that again, and repeated himself Tuesday. He's right though.
But the idea of a renewed Wizards-Cavs rivalry is too salivating to ignore these claims. A return to the mid-2000s rivalry means a return to some of the best playoff series the NBA has seen in recent memory. Just keep your fingers crossed in hopes that the Dubs sign free agent Deshawn Stevenson and then the rivalry will have all the makings of the last time these teams faced off in the playoffs..