The Top 5 NBA Duos
The duo act is timeless. Each member made better by the other’s presence. Costello was funnier alongside Abbot and Batman would have succumbed to his rogues gallery without Robin’s help. As the late Bob Ross would say: “Everybody needs a friend.”
At least a dozen teams had a duo worthy of this list, but we’ve pared down to the five best in the NBA currently. Considering the league’s top tag teams, their unit’s functionality took precedence over their individual talents. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James didn’t make the cut because they lack a unique connection despite being top-25 players (to the point where they probably won’t share a locker room this season). New tandem Chris Paul and James Harden couldn’t cut it either, as we won’t know how well the two gel until November. Forget Big 3’s and superstar free agents hungry for their own teams, let’s get into the NBA’s Top 5 Duos for 2017-18.
The Best of the Rest (in no particular order): Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Bradley Beal and John Wall, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, James Harden and Chris Paul, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
5) Mike Conley and Marc Gasol
Other duos might have more sizzle, but this is the steadiest pair of them all. Conley is the consummate floor general, a driving force behind his $153 million contract and a reason why the team struggled to put together more than a six-game win streak while he was out with a vertebrae injury in late November. Conley is the steam that runs this engine and was full-force last season, reaching career highs in points and field goal percentage.
Same goes for Gasol who flies under the radar despite being one of the league’s most well-rounded big men. The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-Star, along with Conley, forms the glue that holds the Grizz together. Without them on the floor, the team fell apart, as seen in their first-round exit in 2017 to the San Antonio Spurs
4) DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry
Lowry’s looks don’t peg him as a traditional trigger man. Looks can be deceiving though. Kyle might be the best all-around point guard in the league, according to ESPN, who can score as well as come up with key rebounds if need be. Ironically, Lowry was sent to Toronto after Memphis took Conley in 2012. In going up north, Lowry was able to find his groove once he received a vote of confidence from GM Masai Ujiri and guidance from former point guard, Chauncey Billups.
DeRozan brings the flash and has come into his own since being drafted by Toronto back in 2009. Just a talented dunker initially, DeMar has added several more tools to his belt and is now counted amongst the best offensive players in the league. DeRozan re-signed with the Raptors this past offseason for a cool $139 million and represented the Raptors with an All-NBA third team selection and by passing Chris Bosh as the franchise’s all-time leader in points.
3) Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins
The new kids on the block, Wiggins has been everything the Wolves wanted when they traded for the former Kansas standout in 2014. That season’s Rookie of the Year, Wiggins started all 82 games and averaged 16.9 points per game on 43% shooting from the field. Maturing as a scorer since, Wiggins tied a Minnesota record this past season by topping 20 points in 16 straight games.
Not to be outdone, Towns was Rookie of the Year in 2015 after being the first overall selection of his draft. The big man still hasn’t missed a game in his two-year NBA career and pushed his 18.3 points per game average as a rookie to 25.1 this year. His rebounds and assists went up as well. Even scarier to imagine, Towns may just be scratching at the surface of his ceiling.
2) C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard
This entertaining combo has made the Trail Blazers one of the NBA’s premier shows. McCollum is your traditional two-guard who can beat you in a myriad of ways; whether it be stepping back and hitting contested jumpers or by breaking defenders down with his handle and mid-range game. McCollum knows buckets. He scored a career-high 41 points in the opening round of the NBA playoffs this year, becoming just the eighth person in franchise history to have a 40-point game in the postseason.
Lillard may not be the purest passer manning the point, but the Weber State alum is a dynamic scorer who can light it up with the best of them. Since 2012, Lillard’s accomplishments have ranged from two All-Star selections and the 2013 Rookie of the Year award to being named among the All-NBA Second and Third teams. Portland’s cornerstone, Lillard proved his importance this year as he pushed a torrid pace down the stretch to thrust the Blazers past the Denver Nuggets and into the playoffs.
1) Steph Curry and Kevin Durant
You could have easily subbed out Durant for Klay Thompson without ruffling too many feathers. What can you say about Curry? The first player in NBA history to, in the same year, lead the league in scoring and be named its Most Valuable Player. Possibly the greatest shooter in the sport’s history. His touch has led the Golden State Warriors to three straight NBA Finals appearances, two Championships, and within one basket from getting the trifecta. Not bad for a skinny ‘tweener coming out of Davidson in 2009.
KD gets the nod as his running mate since both players, who were already tough enough to contain while on separate teams, became that much more lethal on the court together. As controversial as his move to Golden State was, Durant doesn’t win a championship without Curry spreading out the floor for him and Curry only has the one ring without Durant’s Finals MVP effort, which saw him take home the award in a landslide vote.
Ask Michael Jordan how it felt carrying a team by himself and he will tell you that without a Scottie Pippen, he wouldn’t have six NBA championships. With teams either trying to draft their duos, like Minnesota and Portland did with their young tandems, or by bringing them in via free-agency, like Toronto and Golden State, no man is an island unto himself and no one player can carry a team to the ultimate prize of an NBA championship, especially not in today’s NBA. Let’s see if this top five can get cracked next season by Chris Paul and James Harden, or maybe even by Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.