Better Backcourt: Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers or Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon?
Hey I wrote this article a little while back for Bleacher Report and thought i'd bring it here since there are so many good debaters and I really think you could go either way with it. Most of you know should know the backstory so let me hear who you think would have been the better tandem had they actually played together like some thought they would in college.
I think this will make for great discussion. Here's the article:
In college basketball, usually having two guys that will even get NBA consideration on the same team makes for a formidable tandem, much less two on a fast track to NBA superstardom.
As they finished up their junior seasons of high school, Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose seemed destined to team up and form college basketball's most dominant backcourt at either Illinois or Indiana, the latter of which they visited together while Gordon had given a verbal pledge to the Illini.
Four years later, Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers seemed likely to do the same at Duke, with a toe injury keeping Irving out most of his freshman season, and in turn, making his return to Durham for another year more likely, while Rivers, a high school senior, committed to the Blue Devils for the 2012 year. But neither of these ended up taking place.
We all know the story. Gordon and Rose ended up committing to Indiana and Memphis respectively before becoming lottery picks. More recently, Irving, with his toe fully healed, decided to forgo another season at Duke, making the chance to play with Rivers impossible. Still, though, it's fun to imagine how good either one of these combinations would have been in college. Furthermore, imagining that both had played together, which would have been better?
Unlike other other hypothetical debates, we got glimpses of both of these backcourts for short periods of time, and neither one came close to disappointing. Irving and Rivers won gold for the Under-18 USA team last summer, while Rose and Gordon carried an otherwise weak Meanstreets Express AAU team to a Peach Jam Championship and to the finals of the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament in the summer of 2006. All four guys were consensus top-five recruits in their classes, and Rose, Gordon and Irving have all been one and done in college basketball, with Rivers likely to follow if he desires at the end of next season.
Some people might assume that this debate is easy, because Rose and Gordon have become 20-plus points per game scorers in the league, and the verdict on whether or not Irving and/or Rivers can mirror that success won't be in for a few years. However, we need to keep this fair to the younger two who are yet to lace up their NBA sneakers and keep this debate within the confines of how good these four guards looked coming into their freshman seasons of college. In other words, don't picture the youngest MVP in NBA history when you think of Derrick Rose, but rather, the quiet, pass-first point guard at Memphis who deferred to Chris Douglas-Roberts for most of the season before taking his game to a new level in the NCAA Tournament.
There is hardly a wrong answer in this debate, to the point where I started this article a couple of weeks ago and had to put it on the shelf because I could not decide on a winner. In the end, though, I have to sell out and pick the easier choice of Gordon and Rose, even though, ONLY AT THE SAME AGE, I believe that Irving is better than Rose and Rivers better than Gordon. Not to say that they will be in five years.
They are my choice for a couple of reasons. First, there is the fact that their games complimented each other perfectly. Gordon was the dominant, aggressive scorer and Rose the calm, clutch floor general. Gordon has since improved his handle and passing skills, but at the time, rarely put the ball on the deck more than he had to, and if so, only did so to score. He was an excellent catch and shoot player, and rarely held onto the ball for very long before either firing away from long range or powering his way to the rim for a bucket and/or trip to the charity stripe.
This left Rose to play to his strength, which was having the ball in his hands and breaking down the defense for one of his patented athletic finishes or an assist to a teammate. Neither player had to sacrifice much as a result of the other's presence on the floor.
The second reason they are my choice is because of the explosiveness they brought to the table. I hold the opinion that Derrick Rose is the most athletic player ever to step on an NBA floor. Meanwhile, Gordon's athleticism and power can be summed up with this footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YWe2r0AzEk.
Irving and Rivers are terrific athletes in their won right, both in the sleek, quick and agile mode moreso than raw power and explosiveness. Gordon and Rose both brought game-changing athleticism to the table and were just about the two strongest guards on the court every time they stepped on the floor, giving them a chance to physically dominate the opposition if needed in crunch time. Their bodies were ready for NBA contact before they even started college, evidenced by the fact that instead of wearing down at season's end, Derrick Rose saved his best basketball for the tournament that year.
I feel that because Rivers handles the ball so much and likes time and space to create his shot off the dribble, it at times would take away from the talents of Irving on the floor. In the same way that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade almost took turns attacking because they both did so in the same fashion this past season for the Miami Heat, I felt like Irving and Rivers, maybe only slightly, had to sacrifice for one another because they both are on-the-ball guards.
All things considered, Irving and Rivers are two of my favorite young players of the past few years, and both have a chance to be truly special going forward. They are worthy candidates in this debate and I'd love to hear someone make a case for them in the comments section.
That being said, full game footage of some of the winning combos AAU run together can be found at here http://www.cstv.com/cstv/programming/bigtime/live.html. Just click on the link below the comment. Hope you enjoy!
Definitely Rose and Gordon. Not even close really.
How would this even be a reasonable question?
I meant as high school players. Not as they are now. It's easy to pick them once they've become sure stars in the league. I'm debating by how I remembered all four in high school.
This isn't even close, Rose and Gordon would be the best backcourt in the NBA has ever seen. Imagine DWade (Rose's high ceiling) and Mitch Richmond(Gordon's high ceiling) in his prime joining forces, thats how lethal they would be, if they were ever to team up.
Again, I didn't say in the NBA. I meant how good they were as 18 year old freshmen. Everybody's jumping on Rose and Gordon because they've seen them succeed in the league. Try to take that out of the equation. It's not fair to the two guys who are younger and haven't played at that level yet.
Btw Rose and Gordon the best the league has ever seen?
Wow. No. Ever heard of Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars? Earl Monroe and Clyde Frazier? I'd rather have Michael Jordan and any decent point guard.
One good season and guys become untouchable in the eyes of fans
I just dont think comparing players who haven't even gotten in the NBA yet to the MVP and an All-star level SG is just a little rediculous.
Even if Irving and Rivers hit their max potential, give me Derrick Rose, fast dont lie, and when you have the perfect compliment SG to space the floor it just makes Rose that much more unstoppable.
I dont know how good you think these guys are going to be but if they get where Rose is, (I think they both can be as good as Gordon, emphasis on CAN) then they would greatly exceed what everyone else predicted of them. So I dont think anyone on this board would put their money on Irving and Rivers, they havent proven enough yet.
My answer was comparing them as HS players. Irving and Rivers have played a combined 0 games in the NBA so I assumed you meant amateur competition anway. Even before I skimmed through your post.
Rose 25PPG at 22 yrs old last season
Gordon 22PPG at 22 yrs old last season
I have a hunch that these two are just scratching the surface of what they could possibly become..but thats just my hunch..I could be wrong.
And even at high school level, both Rose and Gordon would crush Irving and Rivers.
I did pick them after all, but I think it's closer than people realize. It's not unreasonable for Rivers to have as good of a season next year as Gordon did at Indiana, and Irving was having a better season than Rose did at Memphis before getting hurt.
Rose did not play spectacular all year at Memphis, and really struggled at times in C-USA games. He really turned it on at Tourney time.
I guess it's just guna be impossible to evaluate without thinking of what we presently see. Rivers and Irving sure as hell wouldn't get "crushed." They could definitely compete.
If Irving doesn't become as good as Gordon he's likely to be considered a bust. He was the no. 1 pick. If he can put up 20 on a lottery team, which is what Gordon has accomplished to date, he definitely wouldn't be GREATLY exceeding expectations.
Yeah, it really isn't close, but it's waaaaay to early to even ask that question. But still, If Kyrie and Austin eeven come close to Rose and Gordon, that would be enough.
How is too early to compare them as COLLEGE players, not NBA. Again. Comparing four guys of similar hype and accolades in high school, and three of which (and the latest likely to follow) have had great, one and done college careers. Nothing else. Nobody can process that for some reason. All you see is Derrick Rose and think of the league MVP, believe it or not he's actually gotten better in the last four years
Alls i saw was something about bleacher report and stopped reading
Even though i think Kyrie an Austin have a chance to a great tandom with there size an skill level i seen D. Rose and Eric Gordon play with each other in AAU they were known as the "Derrick an Eric Show" arguably the best back court the AAU circut has ever seen
"Alls i saw was something about bleacher report and stopped reading."
Wow that was a good one. And obviously you're so smart because you didn't read the post or make a valid point but instead put up what you thought would get you more worthless points. Witty though
Sorry, I read it now, and understand why it's on bleacher report.
An MVP and an up and coming premier shooting guard that are established stars at the highest level of babsketball VS 2 guys that have yet to suit up for an NBA game or even play a full college season combined!!! Hello (Herm Edwards voice) Rose & Gordon
Wow I really didn't think it'd be this hard for people to comprehend. For atleast the 5th time, I said to compare them as incoming college freshmen. The whole point was that both combos played together when they were in high school and almost did in college. All the riders on here see DRose's name and act like he's been this same player since he was in high school. Coach K called Irving the best point guard he ever brought in, and his high school and limited college play certainly stack up with what the almighty DRose did at Memphis. He wasn't even a dominant college player most of that season and at one point had several single digit scoring games in a row in the C-USA.
And as far as Rivers and Gordon go, that is a close debate either way at the same age. Rivers does stack up to a high school Gordon, who wasn't a good ballhandler. THATS THE POINT. These guys were not the same player four years ago, but for some reason nobody can make the comparison without mentioning the NBA. If you didn't do that the debate is not that crazy. They all came out with similar levels of hype, not to mention Irving and Rivers, along with Quincy Miller, were the three youngest and best players on a U19 team full of college sophmores last year.
It's no different than comparing Shabazz Muhammad to Kobe Bryant AT THE SAME AGE, like so many people are doing, accurate or not.
Honestly I didn't realize how many children are on here who don't have a long enough attention span to actually look at more than the headline of a post before declaring that there is no debate in it.
It looks like Bullyball5050 was the only one who actually understood. I did pick Rose and Gordon as being better, but felt that Irving and Rivers atleast stacked up COMING OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL. I should have known that all anyone would see is the NBA aspect when I mentioned their names though.
And chevilicous you're going to talk about my writing? Yeah I'm sure you could do better. Bleacher Report has actually opened up job opportunities for me and gotten me in publications all over the country and I just graduated. And they actually have criteria for letting people post. You're troling around the forum's section of this site just to hate on people and not making any kind of point. Yeah let's see your article.
Haha good lord, you sure do interpret allot out of my 6 word responses, that an entire paragraph may just in fact blow your mind. Here's the thing my friend, you have said over and over again you are comparing these players based on "hype" from what they had coming out of high school and into college, "hype" has no substance to it whatsoever, and is merely a projection of what they could become. Without much game film, and the ability to only see certain high school kids a few times a year on a national stage, it is difficult to even make such a debate or arguement. A question like this would definately better be served after they play at least 1 year of college, where you have more of an argueing point for both sides, and can better gauge how they perform against elite competition. This is the reason I think why most people on this topic have a problem making sense out of your debate.
In addition don't come on a forum stating it has "great debaters", then in the same breath start calling people a bunch of children, because they don't see your point of view. After all isn't it the job of the writer to have it's audience see their point of view? Just a thought young jedi.
I've never seen Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers play together, but I've seen Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon play together... And they were TOUGH. I'll go out on a limb and say that they'd have even given some NBA backcourts fits at that time.
You had two power guards... One of them was an elite athlete and the other was freakish. Both complimented each other perfectly. Gordon wasn't the greatest ball handler, but Rose was. Rose wasn't the greatest shooter, but Gordon was. And they didn't clash since Gordon could play without the ball, catch and shoot, etc. You had one guy who was wanted to pass, and another guy who wanted to score 40. Nobody could really stay in front of either one of them. They could play a half-court game or get out in transition.
With all due respect to Irving and Rivers, I just don't think they could handle this matchup.