Bucking Broncho: Top Five Superstar Duos
Following a landscape-changing NBA offseason, it seems the new league-wide trend in the NBA is star duos. Multiple all-stars have teamed up this offseason and are ready to make a push for the Finals in what will be the most wide-open season in years. Here are the top five superstar duos in the NBA:
- Bron and the Brow: Despite people counting out LeBron James as one of the top players in the NBA, a stat line of 27.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 8.3 apg at the age of 34 doesn’t exactly scream early retirement. Before missing 17 games with a groin injury, in which the Lakers went 6-11 in his absence, James had the Lakers sitting at the fourth seed in the West before they plummeted out of the playoffs and out of contention. This offseason, the Lakers nabbed Anthony Davis in a blockbuster trade that sent Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and a plethora of picks to the New Orleans Pelicans. Factoring in that Dwanye Wade was 29 years old when he and James teamed up in Miami, 26-year-old Davis might be the most talented teammate James has ever had. Davis averaged 25.9 ppg, 12 rpg and 2.4 bpg in his seventh NBA season. The only problem the Lakers will have will be rest management, as both James and Davis will need time off throughout the season due to age and injury safety.
- The California Kids: In two of the biggest moves of the offseason, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have both found themselves back in their home state of California, specifically Los Angeles. But Leonard and George won’t be donning the gold and purple like everyone expected. Instead, they opted to join the Los Angeles Clippers to rival the Lakers. George and Leonard are known as two of the best two-way players in the league. Leonard put on a legendary show in his Finals MVP campaign before signing with the Clippers in the offseason, averaging 30.5 ppg, shooting 49 percent from the field, with 9.1 rpg and 3.9 apg to go with it. He also convinced fellow Los Angeles native George to request a trade out of Oklahoma City, which paid off. George averaged 28 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 4.1 rebounds last season, and finished third in both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year race. Leonard and George might not have the stats to overtake No. 1 on this list, with a supporting cast of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers will be the team to beat in the 2020 NBA season.
- The Beard and The Brodie: Perhaps the most shocking offseason move was that of Russell Westbrook, who after 11 seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul and a first-round pick. Despite his time in Oklahoma City never yielding a championship, reuniting with former teammate James Harden will be 30-year-old Westbrook’s best chance at a title. It’s no secret Westbrook’s prime years could be coming to an end soon, and a change of scenery and a chance to play with Harden could be what he needs to win his first championship. Harden averaged a league-high 36.1 ppg in another MVP chase. Although he came up short to Giannis Antetokounmpo, he has cemented himself as the top guard in the league. The Harden-Westbrook dynamic will be interesting as they haven’t played together as primary ball-handlers, but there’s too much raw talent and potential to not be a top-ranked duo in the NBA.
- The Splash Bros: Despite generational talent Kevin Durant leaving the Bay for Brooklyn, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are a duo to be feared. In games without Kevin Durant the past three seasons, the Warriors have posted a 34-8 record, alluding to the fact that the Warriors are still at the top. At point guard, Curry averaged the second-most points in his career last season at 27.3, and yet against shot an astounding 43 percent from beyond the arc while attempting 11.7 threes per game. Thompson, without Durant and the floor, makes the offense much different. Less isolation ball is played without the 6’9” sharpshooter, and the Dubs revert to their old movement-heavy style of play. Thompson, the Warriors starting shooting guard, averaged 21.5 ppg on 47 percent from the field and earned second-team all-defense. The Finals runner-ups will have to wait to see the Splash Bros back in action, however, as Thompson tore his ACL in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals. Thompson’s return in 2020 could spell disaster for opposing teams, but until then, former Brooklyn Net and All-Star D’Angelo Russell will help Curry carry the load.
- The Prince and The Process: After years of trusting what they deemed “The Process,” Philadelphia finally has the players they wanted. Drafted at No. 3 overall in the 2014 draft, center Joel Embiid has finally strung together a pair of moderately healthy seasons. Playing 64 games in 2019 while averaging 27.5 ppg, 13.6 rpg and 1.9 bpg, Embiid has become a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. He also earned all-defensive second-team. Ben Simmons, a point-forward deemed the Fresh Prince, averaged 16,9 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 7.7 apg in just his second full year in the league. With Embiid at just 25-years-old and Simmons at 23-years-old, it seems to be a match made in heaven, except for one thing: they haven’t won anything. The 76ers, who are loaded with talent outside of Embiid and Simmons, have yet to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. This offseason they’ve acquired veteran stretch-big Al Horford and Miami’s Josh Richardson, all while retaining sharpshooter Tobias Harris. If ‘The Process’ can’t figure it out, Embiid and Simmons could split up sooner than anticipated.