The Boston Celtics have certainly had their fair share of star guards over the franchise’s history. Some of them have even been paired up at the same time. While this has happened on a handful of occasions, here are the three most talented backcourts that stood out from rest.
3. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen
One of the best shooters of all time next to one of the best passers of all time. Regardless of how their current relationship appears, their on-court chemistry was obviously unbelievable. Neither of them were even a top two player on the team. Yet, without either of them the Boston Celtics would have one less championship.
Allen joined the Boston Celtics a year into the process of regressing, yet he was still an impactful starter. Despite not being what he was in Seattle, while also being the third scoring option at times, he still managed 17 points per game in his four healthy seasons. He wasn’t really bad in any other area, but everything else pales in comparison to his scoring ability. Particularly his long range shooting, which was the only thing that seemed to improve upon his arrival in Boston.
Rondo was his polar opposite. He was no scorer, not even in the slightest. But he didn’t have to be, thanks to being one of the greatest playmakers of all time, along with impressive defense. Rondo was opposite of Allen career-wise as well, as Rondo’s was just beginning to take off. He quickly was blossoming into the greatest playmaker into the entire league. Rajon was top five in the league in assists for the final four years of this partnership, and he continues to remain a lethal passer to this day.
Their accomplishments in those five years together are just as impressive. Rondo was top 10 in MVP award shares twice, made an All-Defensive team four times, All-NBA 3rd team once, and three All-Star selections. Allen, on the other hand, also had three All-Star selections, but no other accolades. And to top it all off, they won the 2008 NBA championship. Even though Ray wasn’t in his prime, it’s amazing how deadly they were together.
2. John Havlicek and Jojo White
When the number one duo on this list finally concluded, the next came shortly after. White and Havlicek don’t perfectly compliment each other the way Rondo and Ray do. But their talent alone makes that point meaningless. Havlicek could be considered a small forward, as he split time at the position with Don Chaney, but we ultimately decided it was fair to call him a shooting guard.
Havlicek is a top 30 player in NBA history for a reason. At the time he played, he was easily a top 10 player of all time with a possible argument for top five. Both Havlicek and White were accomplished scorers and passers, though John would usually take the lead scoring role. On top of his offense, he was also an elite defender.
White was all that Havlicek was, but to a bit of a lesser extent. He was an excellent scorer in his early days, but took a bit of a backseat role to Havlicek. Instead, he was more of a facilitator, topping 15 assists per game in all but one season that they both started. His defense was slightly above average, but still not very close to Havlicek’s level.
The pair, with the help of fellow Celtics legend Dave Cowens, captured two rings in the eight year partnership. In that time, Havlicek had five years of being top 10 in MVP shares, six All-Defensive and All-NBA teams, and eight All-Star selections. White had two years of top 20 MVP share finishes, two All-NBA second teams, and seven All-Star nods. This pair had more personal and team success compared to the prior, yet they don’t even compare to the first duo on this list.
1. Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman
Not only is the backcourt partnership of Cousy and Sharman the best, it is also the first great backcourt duo. Like the prior entree on the list, they both started together for eight years. Together they laid the stepping stones for what would become the greatest basketball franchise of all time.
Cousy was the first great distributor in league history, and not even Rondo or Havlicek had more assists in green. But not only could he pass, he could score as well. Though not to the same level as his assists, he does still rank in the top 100 for career points in NBA history. While he was underrated on the defensive end as well, he was a stable part of a strong unit.
Sharman, on the other hand, has gone a bit unappreciated through Boston Celtics history. People tend to forget he was THE guy for Boston prior to Russell becoming a superstar. He wasn’t the scorer, passer, or defender that Cousy was. But he was an important leader, quite possibly even the most valuable player to team success prior to Russell. While Cousy rightfully gets recognized for his contributions, Sharman was equally important to the Celtics success.
This duo won the first three championships of the Celtics dynasty, while also winning a fourth with Sharman as the sixth man. Both made All-Star appearances in all eight years, and they combined for 15 All-NBA teams as well. When they were together, the only real difference was that Cousy received an MVP award, though Sharman came close on occasion. They were two of the first superstars in NBA history, and they rightfully get the number one spot on this list.