In recent years, the NBA had been taken over by superteams and big three combinations. Entering 2019-20, the NBA is as wide open as it’s been in decades and is loaded with exciting duos.
I go through all 30 NBA teams to rank each duo.
List only accounts for players active to start 2019-20 season (meaning this list excludes guys like Klay Thompson, John Wall, or Kevin Durant)
30. Hornets – Terry Rozier/Nic Batum
Franchise player Kemba Walker is gone and has been replaced by Terry Rozier. Rozier along with a declining Nic Batum forms an extremely underwhelming 1-2 punch. You could also say Malik Monk, though he has had an underwhelming two years, or Marvin Williams over Batum.
29. Wizards – Bradley Beal/Rui Hachimura
With John Wall expected to miss most of 2019-20 and Otto Porter traded last year, the Wizards core has been broken up and they enter a rebuilding phase around 2019 All Star Bradley Beal. As a first round pick in 2019, Hachimura makes the most sense to pair with Beal.
28. Thunder – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander/Steven Adams
Gilgeous-Alexander is an excellent future building block for the rebuilding Thunder and was the key piece received in the Paul George trade. It’s likely that Steven Adams never plays another game for the Thunder and is next to be traded. These two really aren’t the worst combo, but are listed near the bottom due to the uncertainty of their futures.
27. Cavs – Collin Sexton/Kevin Love
Love only played 22 games due to injuries in 2019. If healthy, him and Sexton could form a quality duo and start moving the Cavs’ rebuild forward in a positive direction.
26. Grizzlies – Ja Morant/Jaren Jackson Jr
This is the second youngest duo on this list. They have the potential to be very exciting, even if the Grizzlies are a few years away from being competitive. It’s certainly the first time in a few years, Memphis fans have something, someones to be excited about
25. Knicks – RJ Barrett/Kevin Knox
It’s not the Durant/Kyrie duo Knicks fans were hoping for. There’s no Zion. But RJ Barrett has legit star potential and Knox was the 9th pick in 2018. Like the Grizzlies above, both men are currently under 20 years old, which is promising for the Knicks’ future.
24. Kings – Buddy Hield/De’Aaron Fox
Hield averaged 20 ppg for the Kings last season and Fox made huge strides in his second season and the Kings were a few losses away from being a playoff team in 2019. Both men finished in the top 45 in NBA Efficiency rankings.
23. Bulls – Zach LaVine/Lauri Markannen
Health is their biggest obstacle – LaVine played 63 games last year and Markannen played 52. Bulls have a chance to contend for a playoff spot in 2020, but to do will need these guys to be healthy and on their games all year
22. Pistons – Blake Griffin/Andre Drummond
Maybe the reason the Pistons finished as the 8th seed in the East and are trending towards a similar spot in 2020 is because their 1-2 combo is a PF/C duo, in a league dominated by guard and wings.
21. Pacers – Myles Turner/Domantas Sabonis
Like the Pistons, this is an awkward duo because its PF/C, but that’s only because Victor Oladipo is out until about Christmas recovering from a torn ACL. If he were healthy, Pacers would be much higher on this list.
20. Hawks – Trae Young/John Collins
Trae Young proved to be an excellent scorer as a rookie and Collins has become one of the league’s top rebounders. Each guy averaged 19 ppg, with Collins averaging 10 rpg and Young averaging 8 apg. Surrounded by a strong core of other high draft picks, the future looks really bright for the Hawks.
19. Wolves – Karl-Anthony Towns/Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins has been mostly underwhelming since being the #1 pick in 2014, while Towns has dominated since being #1 in 2015. Wolves made the playoffs in 2018 but seem stuck in neutral entering next season.
18. Magic – Aaron Gordon/Nikola Vucevic
On a Magic team filled with strong role players, these two are the only ones who stand out and helped lead the Magic back to the playoffs in 2019 after an 8-year absence.
17. Suns – Devin Booker/Deandre Ayton
Suns haven’t made the playoffs in a decade and have largely been a mess. But as long as they have these two on their roster, there will always be reason for optimism.
16. Pelicans – Jrue Holiday/Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson replaces Anthony Davis and he and veteran Jrue Holiday became the new core of the Pelicans.
15. Heat – Jimmy Butler/Goran Dragic
Dragic is two years removed from an All Star appearance. Butler gets to be the star of the team, as he loves, like he was in Chicago.
14. Mavs – Luka Doncic/Kristaps Porzingis
This might seem really low, but we have yet to see these two play together, with Porzingis injured and missing all of last season following his February trade from New York.
13. Spurs – Demar Derozan/LaMarcus Aldridge
Spurs have built an exciting young core through the draft, but they continue to push forward with two All Star caliber veterans.
12. Raptors – Kyle Lowry/Pascal Siakam
With Leonard gone, Siakam becomes the future in Toronto. Lowry is an All Star, but he’s 33 years old. Siakam, 25, just won NBA’s Most Improved Player going from 7 ppg to 17 ppg, in an extra 11 mpg.
11. Nets – Kyrie Irving/Caris LaVert
LaVert takes the place of Kevin Durant on this list for the 2019-20 season, but obviously (healthy pending) the Nets would sky rocket up this list for 2020-21. LaVert should benefit more playing with Kyrie over Russell and is a rising young star in the league.
10. Celtics – Kemba Walker/Jason Tatum
You could argue Gordon Hayward could be #2, next to Walker. He should take a big step forward two years removed from his gruesome knee injury. Tatum and Kemba should run a much more free flowing offense, with Kyrie Irving having moved on.
9. Jazz – Donovan Mitchell/Rudy Gobert
Gobert won Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, after winning the award in 2018 and was also named All-NBA Third Team. Mitchell, through two seasons, has averaged 22 ppg.
8. Rockets – Russell Westbrook/James Harden
The 2017 MVP and 2018 MVP are back together again and throwing it back to their OKC Thunder days from 2009-2012. Together, they helped lead the Thunder to an NBA Finals appearance in 2012. Without the help of Kevin Durant, how far can they carry the Rockets in 2020?
7. Warriors – Steph Curry/Draymond Green
These are the last two standing with Kevin Durant (FA) and Andre Iguodala (trade) both departing this summer. Klay Thompson will be out until early 2020 recovering from a torn ACL. That puts Draymond in a position to be the team’s second best player for the first time in his career.
6, Nuggets – Jamal Murray/Nikola Jokic
Jokic finished top 5 in MVP voting in 2019 and Murray should vie for an All Star spot in 2020.
5. Blazers – Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum
After years of disappointment, Blazers finally got over the hump and these guards led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2019.
4. Bucks – Giannis Antetokounmpo/Khris Middleton
One of two duos on this list that were both All Stars in 2019 and run it back with their same team in 2020. Giannis won league MVP, while Middleton made his first All Star game. Both players are still improving for a Bucks team that won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA in 2019.
3. 76ers – Ben Simmons/Joel Embiid
These guys are the process for Philadelphia. Others like Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, JJ Redick, and Jimmy Butler have come and gone, but these two are forever. #3 pick in 2014 draft and #1 pick in 2016 draft. They both have in common that they missed their first season and they are one of two teams on this list where both guys were 2019 All Stars.
2. Lakers – Lebron James/Anthony Davis
The Clippers/Lakers debate will be a great one for many months and years to come. Lebron James played the fewest games of his career (55) in his first in LA as did Davis in New Orleans (56). Because of that, there’s a good chance both men could be fresh. Or James, at 35 years old, could be starting to wear down, putting more pressure on Davis, who has won just 1 playoff series in his 7 year career.
1. Clippers – Kawhi Leonard/Paul George
I think the Clippers have the better roster than the Lakers, and I’m giving them the nod of best duo. Kawhi, like Lebron, is a 2x NBA Finals MVP and reminded folks that he is one of the 3-4 best players in the world. Paul George finished third in MVP voting in 2019 and has had more career postseason success than Davis.