Basketball in the NBA has been characterized by high octane offense of late. The Golden State Warriors have been honored with starting the trend of fast, high scoring games with a high volume of three-pointers.
With the NBA adapting the rulebook to welcome more of such games, it becomes in vogue for all teams to step up their offense by another notch. This brings to mind some of the epic teams, in particular, the epic offensive duos of our time in the last twenty years. Below we explore the top ten scoring duos in the past twenty seasons of the NBA.
10. 2012/2013 – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Total 51.3 points per game
Some fans may fondly remember the 2012 playoff semi-finals series between Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The young Thunder served a gentleman sweep by knocking off the Lakers by 4-1.
Many fans may also remember that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook repeated their consistent excellence in scoring output by clinching the second and sixth positions with scoring averages of 28.1 and 23.2 respectively.
9. 2011/2012 – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Total 51.6 points per game
Perhaps the most promising young team of the Western Conference arrived in the 2010s. The trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden form a great young core.
Together with the support of their veterans such as Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson, the Thunder grew from strength to strength. They announced their presence by showing up and Kevin topped the charts with 28 points per game and Russell shone at fifth place with 23.6 points per game.
8. 2007/2008 – Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Total 52.1 points per game
Just when we thought we have seen the best from the two offensive whizzes, the Denver Nuggets duo repeated their feat in the 2007 / 2008 season. Allen Iverson came in third in the scoring title chase with 26.4 points per game and Carmelo Anthony came in a close fourth, with 25.7 points per game. The duo put up a valiant effort in the tough Western Conference that year despite all odds stacked against them.
7. 2010/2011 – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Total 52.2 points per game
At the turn of the new decade in the 2010 / 2011 season, LeBron James was in his prime doing wonders with his newfound Miami Heat team as he surprised many by being second in the scoring ranking, with 26.7 points per game while his battle partner, Dwyane Wade, arrived fourth in the same ranking table with 25.5 points per game.
6. 2001/2002 Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Total 52.4 points per game
The beginning of the era of prolific scoring in multiple positions can be said to be in the early 2000s, where wingmen, forwards and big men are all equally likely to squeeze their way into the top ten in the scoring race. Shaquille was still able to secure a second position and Kobe the sixth position in this season, with 27.2 and 25.2 points per game respectively.
5. 2018/2019 – Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Total 53.3 points per game
2018 / 2019 was the last season of the dominant Warriors dynasty which included two regular-season Most Valuable Players. We were lucky to witness, for one more time, how the impressive offensive duo put on a good show. In this era with a high volume of the shooting of three-pointers, it takes greater average points per game to make a good ranking.
Stephen Curry tallied the fifth position with 27.3 points per game while Kevin Durant earned the eighth position with 26.0 points per game. This marks a closure to the dominance of the Golden State Warriors as clear favorites to win it all.
4. 2006/2007 – Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, Total 55.2 points per game
In the 2006 / 2007 season, Carmelo Anthony went on a tear and came in second on the scoring race with 28.9 points per game while his Denver Nuggets teammate, Allen Iverson, came in seventh with an equally stellar 26.3 points per game.
The rising young All-Star in Carmelo is a perfect tag-team to the seasoned attacker in A.I. when it comes to a barrage of offense.
3. 2000/2001 Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Total 57.2 points per game
The only team in the modern-day NBA to ‘Threepeat’ is the Los Angeles Lakers, clinching the Larry O’Brien for three consecutive years. In particular, the 2000 / 2001 Lakers roster had two huge offensive forces, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, who were ranked third and fourth respectively for their scoring prowess.
Shaquille tallied an impressive 28.7 points per game and Kobe was close in the chase with 28.5 points per game. It was indeed one of the most watchable duos in terms of the displays of scoring talent.
2. 2002/2003 Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal, Total 57.5 points per game
One of the amazing things about the Shaq-Kobe one-two punch is its rarity and its little-discussed longevity. Back-to-back-to-back seasons when both superstars on the same team rank high in the scoring hierarchy is rarely, if not never heard of.
In the 2002 / 2003 season, Kobe finished at an incredible second position with 30 points per game whereas Shaquille came in fourth with an equally dominant 27.5 points per game.
1. 2005/2006 – Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Total 59.5 points per game
In the early 2000s, the NBA witnessed the evolution of the Denver Nuggets. With the young All-Star, Carmelo Anthony, coming to his own, the Nuggets are poised to make their ascent. The arrival of the Answer, Allen Iverson, placed turbo boosters on the offensive engine of the Nuggets.
That year, Iverson and Carmelo took the league by storm by becoming the new best offensive duo, finishing second with 33 points per game and eighth with 26.5 points per game respectively.
Having seen the top ten offensive duos in the past twenty seasons, one can only imagine how much more incredible the future NBA can be, now that a record number of major superstars have switched home teams. Let us just sit back and enjoy the show as the new NBA season reopens. One thing for sure is, the firepower will only continue to get stronger.