Is Jamal Crawford – J.J. Redick the best SG tandem in the NBA?


Most teams have one, and only one, shooting guard on the floor at a given time, as two players of the same position typically don’t coexist well. Whether it was Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers’ intentions prior to the season or not, he is finding success with his rotations that contradict the ordinary.

As of late, it’s been rare for Clippers’ shooting guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford to not be on the court simultaneously.

While Redick remains the starter, reigning NBA Sixth-man of the year Crawford, naturally a guard, has found a rhythm playing behind small forward Matt Barnes. The Clippers’ depth in that area consists of Hedo Turkoglu, Dahntay Jones, and most recently Jordan Hamilton, who all have had minimal impact this season. Crawford is averaging 16.9 points in just 27 minutes a game this season.

How do Redick and Crawford manage to mesh so well?

Despite different play styles, the dynamic duo emerging in Los Angeles has found common ground behind the arc. This season, Crawford has shot an impressive 33.9% from the three-point line, while Redick’s 43.4% is sixth best in the league. This has been a result of unselfish play from both of these guys who often benefit from each others extra pass that leads to better looks, especially from distance — perhaps a reason both of them are in the top-15 in total three-point shots made.

Also, the fact that Crawford and Redick genuinely enjoy sharing the court is essential.

“I’d always played against Jamal for years, didn’t know what to expect going into last year,” Redick said. “Playing with him was a nice little surprise. He’s a guy who understands the game, who gets the game and is fun to play with.”

Crawford echoed Redick’s praise, and he even had a bold statement regarding their play to the media.

“I think it was just a matter of time between me and J.J.,” Crawford said. “We’ve talked about it, and we feel like we’re the best shooting guard tandem in the league, and we both play well together usually.”

While they certainly do usually play well together, are Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick really the best shooting guard tandem the NBA has to offer?

There are undoubtedly people in Toronto and around the league who would respectfully (and disrespectfully) disagree with Crawford’s comments. The Raptors’ duo of shooting guards DeMar Derozan and Lou Williams have been a vital part of the Raptors’ success this year, as they have remained comfortable all year at the top of the Eastern conference with Atlanta. Derozan is the starter, and has averaged 17.9 points along with 3 assists. Williams is expected to be heavily involved in the NBA’s Sixth man of the year discussion, as his 15.1 points off the bench are a career-high in his tenth NBA season.

The play from these respective tandems have set themselves apart from other duos in the NBA so far this season, but only one can be “the best shooting guard tandem in the league” that Crawford personally crowned himself and Redick last week.

There are still many games to be played this season, and then some, for these playoff-bound duos, but as of now, Crawford has a legitimate point—he and Redick are playing like the best shooting guard tandem in the league, narrowly edging the electric DeRozan-Williams combo from Toronto.

While Williams definitely deserves consideration for this year’s sixth man honors, Crawford has to be given the nod for the second year in a row. His play style is versatile, and he uses his exceptional dribbling ability to get to the basket with ease or free himself up for a jump shot that he can make on a consistent basis, with virtually unlimited range. Redick’s ability to catch-and-shoot at a high rate is ideal in a game that is starting to rely on long-range shooting now more than ever, as this season’s month of March marked the first month in NBA history that more three-pointers were attempted than free throws.

Ultimately, Crawford and Redick are the best tandem in the league because their respective skill sets serve as perfect complements to each other. Rather than competing for playing time, these guys have embraced their situation and settled into roles that the Clippers would suffer without.

“I want him to be successful and he wants me to be successful,” Crawford said in that same interview. “We help each other out, we cover for each other.”

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