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We heard you like rankings, so to kick off The Ringer’s 2018-19 NBA Preview, we’re >devoting the week to evaluating (and slapping a number on) the players, the story lines, and the odds and ends that promise to make the upcoming season one to remember.

The hardest part of ranking NBA players is evaluating them in a vacuum. No player is an island: their value comes from how they fit on their team. Their talent is less important than their role. Ranking units is an interesting middle ground between ranking teams and ranking players. To keep things simple, I will rank the best two-man backcourts and frontcourts in each conference.

Unless their teams meet in the NBA Finals, figuring out how a two-man unit compares to one in the other conference is largely an academic exercise. It’s different within conferences. The best backcourts in the East and West face each other year after year in the playoffs. Monday, I went through the East. Tuesday, it’s all about the West.

1. Golden State Warriors — Steph Curry and Klay Thompson

The only competition left for the Splash Brothers is history. If Curry and Thompson aren’t the best backcourt ever already, they’re not far off. Not only have they revolutionized the game with their style of play, they have won three titles in the past four seasons and were a handful of possessions away from a fourth. They’re not likely to slow down anytime soon, either, barring injury. Steph is 30 and Klay is 28, and their games should age well together. No matter what happens with the luxury tax over the next few seasons, there’s no reason to ever break them up.

Steph is a two-time MVP, but Klay is just as important to the Warriors. At 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, he’s a tank with near limitless endurance, allowing him to chase smaller guards around the floor and let Steph rest on defense. He’s also an all-time great shooter who can pour in points while hardly touching the ball. His career high of 60 points came in a game during which he dribbled 11 times. Klay’s ability to play off the ball makes everyone around him better because it gives them more opportunities with it.

2018-19 NBA Preview

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The Best Backcourt Duos in the Western Conference, Ranked
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