NBA: Ranking the Top 3 Duos In the NBA
The modern-day NBA team consists of at least two superstar players. It’s a well-known tactic by now and a team can’t be successful without at least a pair of stars to depend on nightly.
So here we are, the three best duos in the NBA. I’d take note of the success rate of these duos
Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant
The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the NBA’s best overall teams, and to boot, they also own the best duo in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
A year ago, deeming a Durant-Westbrook duo the league’s best would have been bold. Westbrook was certainly one of the game’s bright young players, but his assist numbers suggested he wasn’t a true point guard and his turnover frequency was too high to be ignored.
This year there has been little to criticize, as Westbrook has transformed into a pretty decent point guard. He’s averaging 8.1 assists per game, a near three-assist increase on his 2012 total. Plus, his decision making is refined and he has cut down on the mental errors. Granted, he will always be a score-first guard, but the UCLA product has the makings to be an elite playmaker as well.
In all, he’s averaging 22.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists. He’s also in the top 10 in the NBA in player-efficiency rating (PER).
As for Durant, well, there’s not much to say. He leads the NBA in scoring and is second to only LeBron James in the PER department.
And yes, even a player of Durant’s caliber can make some improvements. In fact, Durant is living proof of that statement. Not only has he noticeably improved his ball-handling skills, but in turn, he’s improved his overall playmaking ability.
Durant may not quite be on LeBron James’ level in terms of creating for others with the pass, but he’s certainly getting there. Thus far this season, he’s averaging a career-high 4.4 assists. But it’s the general eye test that confirms his improvement as a dribbler.
Improvements, winning and a bright future have this Westbrook-Durant duo atop the rankings.
Chris Paul-Blake Griffin
There may be some disagreements here given that Blake Griffin hasn’t repeated the success he found last season. However, he hasn’t been as bad as many critics have asserted.
Griffin is averaging 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds with the 13th-best PER in the league. He has endured some brutal stretches, but a trio of double-doubles, one of which included eight assists, has the living highlight reel relevant once again.
The thing is, people have to start giving this guy credit for something other than his dunks. Yes, his dunks are certainly a joy to watch, but he does flaunt some potent post moves and his vision is quite nifty for a player of his size. The Clips can toss the ball to him in the middle of the paint and when the double team arrives, he usually finds the open man, whether that be DeAndre Jordan or a shooter.
Griffin’s much like David Lee in a sense. Lee’s mid-range jumper is better than Griffin’s, but they can both pass the ball. As such, LA’s big man is averaging more than five assists per game over his last nine games. During that stretch, he’s recorded more than seven assists three times. That’s approaching Chris Paul territory.
Speaking of Paul…
Despite being being hobbled with a lingering knee injury, Paul is a worthy MVP candidate. His scoring is down, but he’s right on pace with his career average with 9.7 assists per game and he leads the NBA in steals with more than 2.5 per game.
What should be underscored is the fact that he’s playing only 33 minutes a night. This is evidently in large part due to the Clippers’ knack of blowing teams out of the water early and often. Also, their bench doesn’t consist of any slouches. So the Clippers haven’t really had a need to overuse Paul to the point where they desperately need him to produce.
But, without Paul for an extended period of time, the Clippers barely tread water. They lost to the Golden State Warriors on Monday without their point guard, and lost to a terrible Phoenix Suns team on Thursday night. Thus, Paul’s value to the Clips is crystal clear if it wasn’t already.
It is a big “if,” but if Paul re-signs with the Clippers, then this will be a fun duo to watch for a good part of the next decade, and of course in the present, too.
LeBron James-Dwyane Wade
Maybe Dwyane Wade is no longer the Wade that can overcome constant spills to the hardwood, but he doesn’t have to be nearly as effective anymore because James has taken over.
The Heat have a net rating of plus-10.6 with Wade on the floor and a plus-10.2 with James on the floor. What’s noteworthy about this duo is how much of Miami’s success or shortcomings hinge on LeBron and Wade. This isn’t a surprise to even the casual observer. When this tandem of Wade and LeBron James was first formed, it was them and essentially no one else. Now, the Heat has Ray Allen, an improved Mario Chalmers and a bench full of alternatives to turn to, but James and Wade still hold the keys to Miami’s success.
As for the stats, they’re just a piece of the puzzle. James is fourth in the NBA in scoring and leads the NBA in PER. And for Wade, he’s 10th in the NBA in scoring and sixth in PER. But again, their value can’t be weighed through just stats. It goes far beyond that.
James and Wade are a good duo, but they fall a little short of the former two duos. Durant and Westbrook have the Thunder holding the NBA’s second-best record, while Paul and Griffin have the Clippers with the third-best record. Still, all three are neck and neck.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.Com, NBA,Com and HoopData
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Jake Dal Porto is a high school student from the Bay Area. He has been following the NBA for years, and enjoys writing about the sport as well. Jake is the assistant editor at Golden Gate Sports, and writes for Busta Sports and MLB Reports as well.
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