Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer thought it would be a good idea to weigh in on the subject and put out his list of backcourts that he considers to be better than Young and Murray.
The list quickly drew strong reactions from Atlanta Hawks fans and even casual NBA fans with entry-level knowledge of the game who could quickly sense the insanity of some of the names O’Connor listed.
This isn’t the first time that O’Connor has stirred the pot with Atlanta fans in recent memory. Back in April, right as Atlanta was getting ready to kick off their first-round series against the Boston Celtics, O’Connor put out a deceptively-worded article under the guise of a report that insinuated Atlanta may have been open to trading Young, which in turn caused a firestorm of speculation that was based on no new intel from the franchise.
What O’Connor’s potential vendetta against Young might be is surely a question worth asking at this point.
Breaking down the (real) Atlanta Hawks’ backcourt ranking
Right off the bat, we can cross out at least three of the backcourts that O’Connor has ranked ahead of Young and Murray. The Boston Celtics (Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White), Oklahoma City Thunder (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey), and, perhaps most laughably, the Milwaukee Bucks (Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen) all fall a sizeable distance short of the talent level that Young and Murray, two former all-stars, possess. The fact that these teams’ backcourts were even considered, let alone actually ranked ahead of Atlanta, is quite baffling.
We can also probably cross out the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks. Perhaps if these backcourts had players who could be counted on to consistently, you know, play basketball, we could have this discussion.
But Ja Morant’s unique stress-relieving method of waving guns on Instagram Live that even a 24-hour stint at a wellness center couldn’t cure, and Kyrie Irving’s habit of posting links to documentaries that downplay Adolf Hitler’s racism, have rendered these backcourts unreliable at best. And there’s also the fact that the Mavericks didn’t even make the play-in with Irving and running mate Luka Doncic, and the Grizzlies are quite literally better when Morant is off the court.
The Suns’ backcourt of Devin Booker and Bradley Beal certainly has comparable talent to Young and Murray, but considering that we haven’t seen the two ball-dominant shooting guards play together yet out in the valley, Young and Murray get the edge for now.
If we are judging the Warriors’ backcourt off of the Klay Thompson we saw in the 2023 playoffs, there’s no way they would be in Young and Murray’s tier, despite the continued brilliance of Stephen Curry. However, out of respect for what Thompson has accomplished and is still theoretically capable of doing, I won’t argue with putting them ahead of Atlanta.
The Cavs’ backcourt of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell is, in theory, at least as good as Young and Murray. However, we also saw that backcourt completely folded against a rather pedestrian New York Knicks team this past postseason.
“But wait! Young and Murray lost to Boston in the first round!” Yes, they sure did. They also both played at a level in that series that probably would have been enough to beat New York, or at least not lose to them in five games, as Mitchell and Garland did.
In any case, it’s important to remember that O’Connor’s main goal here was probably to get a reaction, and one can only assume that names like the Bucks and Celtics were included to generate shock value. If that is indeed the case, well played, Kevin.