One of the things we love to do is talk about certain NBA eras.
In the 1960s, we had Bill vs. Wilt; in the ’80s, Bird vs. Magic; in the ’90s, Jordan vs. the league; in the 2010s, it was LeBron dominating the East and Golden State dominating the league.
However, the NBA today is somewhat the exact opposite of what we’re used to seeing. Even though there are clear-cut best players in the league, you can’t win with just one guy anymore. You need at least two really solid players, and even that is probably not going to be enough.
That said, here are the 10 best duos in the league.
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No. 10: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo
Even though this duo has been underwhelming from a winning standpoint this year, Butler and Adebayo have been pretty solid historically. They have proven to step it up in the playoffs, making two Eastern Conference Finals in the last three years. In addition, they are one of the best defensive duos in the league. They probably will not win a playoff series. However, don’t be too surprised if these guys still step it up when they need to.
No. 9: Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving
This duo has the potential to be in the top five but also has the potential to drop out of the top 10. Offensively, it will be tough to stop a team that has two of the best bucket-getters in the league. That being said, there is also reason to believe that it will not work out late in games when you have two ball-dominant guys and very below-average defense. It will be interesting to see, but I am not expecting too much drama given that Irving is an impending free agent and probably wants to stay out of trouble for the last couple of months of the season.
No. 8: Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins
It might sound a bit silly to rank the reigning champions as only the eighth-best duo in the league, but there are a couple of factors that went into this. First of all, it’s unclear whether Wiggins is the Warriors’ second-best player. Some argue you should still trust Klay Thompson or Draymond Green in the playoffs more than Wiggins. There is also, of course, the availability problem this year. But overall, when your duo contains a top-five player and one of the most impactful guys in the league, I don’t think you can rank them much lower.
No. 7: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray
A lot of people were hesitant to predict the Nuggets to be a higher seed at the beginning of the season because of injury concerns from Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Still, the Nuggets have been one of the best teams in the league not only because of Jokic but also because of Murray. Jokic will probably win his third MVP in a row and is the most impactful player in the league, according to almost all advanced stats. Of course, the only knock against them is their lack of playoff success, but if there is one year to be confident in them, it is this year.
No. 6: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
Everyone knows how great this duo could be. They could easily be No. 1 if they were just more consistent. Kawhi, at his peak, was a top-five player while George was an MVP candidate. They’re healthy now, so there are reasons to be optimistic when the standings are so tight, but their floor is a first-round exit. With this being said, just because they have a low floor does not mean Leonard and George will be the reason for a potential elimination. There is a good chance we see great playoff series out of these two, even if they fall short because of their teammates.
No. 5: LeBron James and Anthony Davis
Just like Leonard and George, this duo has both a high ceiling and a low floor. When healthy, both of these guys are top-12 players. They also have a newly revamped roster that looks pretty good so far. With this being said, both James and Davis have their injury concerns, and it is not like their teammates have no reason to be pessimistic about whether their game will carry over in the playoffs. With this being said, if we are talking about how the duo will play, it is hard to believe they won’t be at an elite level
No. 4: Joel Embiid and James Harden
Despite both of these players not being known for upping their game in the playoffs, this is debatably the best offensive duo in the league. The Sixers did not have a strong start to the season mainly because of an injury to Harden, but ever since he has returned, they have won 26 of their last 33. Given the history of Embiid, Harden, Doc Rivers, and the Sixers as a whole, there are, of course, a lot of reasons to question whether or not they can make a playoff run. Don’t be surprised if they end up breaking through this year.
No. 3: Kevin Durant and Devin Booker
This duo has yet to play a game yet, but as long as they stay healthy (and that is a big if), they will almost definitely be one of the best duos in the league. Both of them can play on and off the ball, score at will, and are probably about average on defense. Another important aspect is that they have both proven they can elevate their game in the playoffs. The Suns made a huge risk in trading their depth and draft picks for an injury-prone Kevin Durant, but he is still playing like he was back with the Thunder and Warriors and is 100 percent worth the risk, especially since he gets to play with someone like Booker.
No. 2: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday
When everyone is healthy, the dynamic duo is Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, not Holiday. However, with Middleton’s current situation, Holiday is the clear right-hand man at this point. You can very well argue that they should be No. 1 on the list because Giannis is, at worst, a top-three player in the league while Holiday is one of the best two-way guards. With this being said, their biggest concern is how much adversity they will be able to overcome in the playoffs. They have done it before, but can they do it again against bigger and better defenses? This will be one of the best things to watch from April through June.
No. 1: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown
These two guys have been through a whole lot. For years, people argued that they had to get rid of one of them because they could not co-exist. Despite playing well with each other since Tatum was a rookie, people continued to doubt. With six total All-Star Games, three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, and a trip to the NBA Finals, they are the best duo in the league. They have done everything except win the entire thing. It is by no means a guarantee that they’ll even make the Finals again this year, but there are many reasons to be optimistic about this duo for years to come.
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