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Klay Thompson vs. Bradley Beal: Who you got?

Two of the best shooting guards in the NBA to match up Wednesday

Last June, Bradley Beal raised a lot of eyebrows on his blog when he had this to say about himself and Washington Wizards backcourt mate John Wall:

“If we want to be the best backcourt in the NBA, we’ve got to show up every night and prove it, constantly put the work in, and continue to challenge each other to get better.

“And that’s how we feel right now. We are the best backcourt in the league.”

Eyebrows were raised because the post came when the Golden State Warriors were in the midst of their run to the NBA title and fielding a backcourt of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry that’s considered by many to be the best backcourt in the NBA.

Beal’s coming off his first All-Star appearance and is having the best scoring year of his career (23.7 points per game). And going into Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, the Wizards are playing their best ball of the season, with Tuesday’s win at Milwaukee increasing their record to 10-3 during a recent stretch without the injured Wall (left knee).

The big matchup on Wednesday is Beal vs. Thompson, two of the best shooting guards in the NBA.

Who you got?

SHOOTING ABILITY

Thompson’s a better shooter statistically, with a slight edge in overall field goal percentage (45.8 to 44.6 percent) and 3-point percentage (42.2 to 39.5). Thompson also does a better job of coming off screens and is among the best catch-and-shoot players in the league.

Edge: Thompson.

PLAYMAKING ABILITY

Beal averages one more assist per game (3.3 to 2.3), and his role as a playmaker has increased in Wall’s absence.

Even before Wall was injured, Beal was among the best shooting guards off the bounce, which has been big for a Washington team that’s relied heavily on its backcourt in recent years.

Thompson’s also a solid playmaker, but he’s not asked to create as much playing on the most talented team in the NBA and alongside three other All-Stars in Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

Edge: Beal

DEFENSE

Beal’s a good defender. Thompson’s a great defender.

Beal this season actually has more steals (1.1 steals per game to 0.9), while he trails Thompson in blocks (0.3 to 0.5).

But Thompson is asked nightly to chase some of the most talented offensive players in the league, and he is respected by his peers as one of the best lockdown defenders in the NBA among shooting guards.

By his peers. That’s different from the lack of love Thompson gets from NBA writers and broadcasters who have never voted him onto an All-NBA defensive team.

That’s right, never, which came as a surprise to Kyrie Irving when he found that out last year. Irving’s response:

Edge: Thompson

POSTSEASON PERFORMANCE

Thompson has more playoff appearances (5-3), but Beal has better playoff numbers.

Beal has the edge in scoring (22.6 to 18.8), rebounds (4.5 to 3.9), assists (3.9 to 2.3) and steals (1.6 to 0.9).

But Thompson has made deeper playoff runs, performing on a bigger stage.

Edge: Thompson

ACCOLADES

NBA titles: Thompson 2, Beal 0.

All-Star Games: Thompson 4, Beal 1.

All-NBA teams: Thompson 2, Beal 0.

Edge: Thompson

THE VERDICT

This comes down to two talented players having different responsibilities with different teams. Put Thompson on another NBA team and his offensive numbers would likely increase across the board.

Yes, Thompson’s more of a role player playing on what is, top to bottom, one of the most talented teams in NBA history. And if you swapped the two players, the Warriors wouldn’t skip a beat offensively with Beal in the lineup.

But picking between Beal and Thompson comes down to a few intangibles: defense and the ability to perform in big-game situations. In that case, we’re rolling with Thompson.

Jerry Bembry is a senior writer at The Undefeated. His bucket list items include being serenaded by Lizz Wright, and watching the Knicks play an NBA game in June.