We are currently in the era of superteams but also in the era of spectacular duos. There are currently All-Star duos playing in the Finals right now, and the best teams generally have the most dominant duos of the league. Player movement is at an all-time high right now, which is why All-Star duos are being formed across the league. Looking ahead to the 2021-2022 season, it is time to rank the top-10 duos in the NBA in terms of impact.
It is important to note that the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is not included in this list due to Kawhi Leonard’s injury. Leonard is out for at least another 9 months due to an ACL injury that kept him out of the Clippers’ postseason run. The duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is also not included because as things stand, Simmons is currently on the trading block. Without further ado, here are the 10 best duos in the NBA next season.
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis
The Dallas Mavericks have a superstar in Luka Doncic, and the Slovenian is already one of the best all-around players in the NBA right now. Unfortunately for the Mavericks and Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis has not been the sidekick many expected he would become. Porzingis averaged 20.1 PPG and 8.9 RPG this season which are solid numbers, but those numbers dipped to a putrid 13.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG.
Even if Porzingis had a down year, he should bounce back next season. After all, he was an All-Star with the New York Knicks when he was known as "The Unicorn". In terms of an all-around game for a center, Porzingis can be an All-Star when healthy and playing confidently. But for whatever reason, he has not played up to par in Dallas alongside the Mavericks franchise player.
Still, because of Luka, Dallas has a great duo in the NBA. The Mavericks will continue to build a contender around Luka and they should believe that Porzingis will perform to his best. If he does, Luka might have a chance to carry Dallas past the first round of the playoffs. Doncic will be an MVP candidate next year, which means he will form one of the best duos.
10. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal
The Washington Wizards were a disappointment to start the season this year, although they were able to regroup and make the playoffs. Washington finished with a 34-38 record and the reason they were playing in the postseason was that the duo of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal are incredibly talented. Despite getting traded to a new team to start the year, Westbrook was able to average a triple-double for the 4th time of his career.
Westbrook averaged 22.2 PPG, 11.5 RPG, and 11.7 APG while playing 36.4 MPG for Washington. Even though his shooting percentages were low for a point guard (43.9% FG), Westbrook was dominant at his position. His athleticism is still off the charts at 32 years old, and will always have a physical advantage against any point guard in the league. Alongside him was Bradley Beal, the second-highest scorer in the NBA.
Beal averaged 31.3 PPG on a 48.5% shooting percentage and has blossomed into one of the best scorers in the league. Beal is automatic from mid-range and can hit the three at a strong clip (34.9% on 6.2 attempts per game). Looking ahead to next season, Washington should be a playoff team with a year under the belts of Westbrook and Beal, and they will be a dominant offensive force yet again.
9. Trae Young and John Collins
Everyone knew Trae Young can play, but no one expected the miniature point guard to be as impactful as he has been this year. In 63 games, Young averaged 25.3 PPG and 9.4 APG for the Hawks and led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite only standing 6'1", Young is easily one of the best guards in the league.
Alongside him this season was John Collins, an athletic power forward who can shoot and also complete lobs from his point guard. Collins was very effective this year averaging 17.6 PPG and 7.4 RPG, and he is expected to be returning to the Hawks after free agency. Collins wants a max contract, but he shouldn't leave Atlanta no matter what.
Young and Collins are a perfect duo on offense because they connect often and in an exciting fashion. Young will be 23 next season and Collins will be 24, meaning they have almost a decade to be an effective duo together. Considering their success this year, Young and Collins will be a top-10 duo next season if Collins stays in Atlanta.
8. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert
Donovan Mitchell had a great year for the Utah Jazz, averaging 26.4 PPG and 5.2 APG while leading the team to the best record in the NBA. Thanks to Mitchell's growth as a star, the Jazz took a big leap in their title contention. Of course, Rudy Gobert was a big help.
Gobert won his 3rd Defensive Player of the Year Award and is the most impactful center on the defensive end. He stands 7'1" and clears 250 lbs, which means he is an immovable object when he defends the rim. With Gobert dominating on defense and Mitchell carrying the offense, Utah were a force all season long until they ran into the Clippers in the postseason.
Next season, Utah will be title contenders again although that could depend on if Michael Conley re-signs with Utah. As long as Gobert and Mitchell are a duo, that Jazz will be a contender in the West although Mitchell might have to take his game to another level yet again to take the team to the top.
7. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were both spectacular as All-Stars for the Celtics this season. Despite this, Boston only finished with the 5th record in the Eastern Conference. But that still doesn't take away from the raw talent of Tatum and Brown as a duo. If they stay together, Tatum and Brown can lead Boston to success in the future.
Boston need to add another star player to get the team over the hump, but the base is there. Tatum is developing into one of the best scorers in the NBA while Brown took a jump from role player to All-Star last year. Tatum averaged 26.4 PPG while Brown averaged 24.7 PPG. There is no reason to believe that the duo won't come close to those figures again next season because they are getting better every year.
For 2022 and beyond, Tatum and Brown will be one of the best duos in the league. They can play solid perimeter defense and are offensive stars who can take over games. New general manager Brad Stevens has a lot of work to do to build the rest of the team because Tatum and Brown could use some help to challenge the likes of Brooklyn and Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference.
6. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray
Nikola Jokic was the league MVP and he thoroughly deserved it. In 72 games, Jokic averaged 26.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 8.3 APG while leading the Denver Nuggets to the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. Beyond playing like the best big man in the game, Jokic also solidified himself as the best passing center of all time.
Unfortunately for Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, Jamal Murray went down with an untimely injury that kept him out of this season's playoffs. During the regular season, Murray averaged 21.2 PPG and 4.8 APG. In last year's playoffs, Murray was sensational averaging 26.5 PPG and 6.6 APG while guiding the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals.
If Murray is healthy, there is no doubt Denver has one of the best duos in the NBA. Jokic is the best big man in the NBA currently and Murray can destroy teams when he gets hot from the perimeter. If Jamal Murray was healthy alongside MVP Jokic this postseason, it is very possible we could have had a different team representing the Western Conference in the Finals.
5. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton
The story of the Phoenix Suns' spectacular season is mainly headlined by 36-year old Chris Paul. The point guard has been the best offseason acquisition by any team this past season because he has remained healthy for the most part and guided the Suns back into the playoffs. Of course, he is playing in his first NBA Finals.
But looking ahead to next season, it is obvious the duo of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will be the most dominant duo in Phoenix. Even if Chris Paul elevated their games, Booker and Ayton have youth and talent on their side. Booker averaged 25.6 PPG this season while Ayton was a monster dropping 14.4 PPG and 10.5 RPG. In each of their first playoff runs, Booker upped his numbers to 27.7 PPG while Ayton dropped 16.0 PPG and 12.1 RPG.
If Chris Paul remains in Phoenix next year, this Suns duo could even crack the top-3 because of the point guard's ability to make his teammates better. But even if he leaves Phoenix, Booker and Ayton hold the future for the Suns and they will both likely be making All-Star Teams for the foreseeable future under budding head coach Monty Williams.
4. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are one of the best duos in NBA history. Even before Kevin Durant joined them to make the Warriors unstoppable, Steph and Klay built the team's championship status across the league. To many fans and pundits worldwide, they are the two greatest shooters who ever lived.
In fact, Curry and Klay might be responsible for how the game is played right now. Teams realized how three-pointers could make their offenses more explosive, as long as you field All-Star shooters. Curry and Klay were mainly responsible for winning the NBA championship together in 2015, before winning again in 2017 and 2018 alongside Kevin Durant. Looking ahead to next season, the Warriors duo could be a massive problem for the rest of the league.
Curry played like an MVP this season averaging 32.0 PPG and 5.8 APG without Klay by his side, and he will still be the best point guard in the world next season. Klay Thompson will be back from his Achilles injury and is still one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Together, the Warriors will be back in title contention as long as Klay can return to his All-Star form.
3. LeBron James and Anthony Davis
LeBron James and Antony Davis were the best duo in the NBA to start the season, but injuries to both stars kept them from truly carrying the Lakers to the best record in the West. Had they both stayed healthy, LeBron and Davis might be playing in the NBA Finals right now. In terms of size and skill, no duo comes close to what James and Davis bring to the Lakers. The reason they are not #1 on this list is that next year, LeBron will be 37 years old.
LeBron was still the smartest player in the NBA by averaging 25.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 7.8 APG. In terms of making his teammates better, James does that better than anyone else in the NBA. Davis was also impactful by averaging 21.8 PPG and 7.9 RPG, but this season was the worst of Davis’ career since his rookie season. But looking ahead to next year, LeBron and Davis are still a top-3 duo even if LeBron James will be 37 years old.
The Lakers will likely regroup next year with possibly some new additions, meaning the Lakers will be thrust right back into the mix for the NBA championship. James has the brain to be a leader on and off the floor, and a healthy Anthony Davis is the best big man in the NBA. Unless LeBron can return to being the best player in the NBA and overcoming his age, his duo with Davis will be 3rd entering next season.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton
The Milwaukee Bucks are in the NBA Finals right now, and the duo of Giannis Antetokonmpo and Khris Middleton is the main reason why. The Bucks have been impressive this season by finishing 3rd in the East with a 46-26 record, and defeating the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Handling Trae Young and the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals was also impressive, thanks to big performances by Giannis and Middleton.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is easily a top-5 player in the NBA by averaging 28.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 5.9 APG this season. The 2-time MVP is the most dominant athletic specimen in the league at 6’11”, and even if he cannot shoot at a consistent level, he is spectacular on both ends of the floor. Khris Middleton is the perfect complement to Giannis since the 2-time All-Star averaged 20.4 PPG on 41.4% shooting from three. While Giannis can’t shoot, Middleton certainly can.
In terms of defensive play and offensive efficiency, Giannis and Middleton are a top-2 duo in the NBA. The Bucks are a consistent title contender since Giannis became an MVP and Middleton became an All-Star, and they will carry their momentum into next season. Whether the Bucks win the title this year or not does not affect how impactful this duo is, although a championship could put them over the top as the best in the league. But as things stand, Giannis and Middleton are 2nd in the NBA behind one superstar duo.
1. Kevin Durant and James Harden
Kevin Durant was the best player in the NBA this past season and the most unstoppable scorer in the NBA. Durant averaged 26.9 PPG for Brooklyn in the regular season but upped that number to 34.3 PPG on 51.4% shooting in the playoffs. Durant’s postseason was particularly spectacular because the Nets suffered key injuries to the likes of Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
Speaking of The Beard, Harden forms the best duo in the NBA alongside Kevin Durant. James Harden was the MVP of the league in 2018 and averaged his standard 24.6 PPG and 10.8 APG this past season as a member of the Nets and Houston Rockets. In terms of pure offensive firepower, no duo comes close to Durant and Harden. These two players might be the best one-on-one players in the NBA since a prime Kobe Bryant, and cannot be defended by even the best defender in the league. Of course, modern NBA rules allow both Durant and Harden even more leverage to destroy teams with their scoring ability.
The Brooklyn Nets should have been NBA champions this season, but an untimely injury to Harden (and also Kyrie Irving) meant Durant was forced to handle Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks alone. Durant tried incredibly hard, but he could not quite get it done. Looking ahead to next season, Brooklyn are the title favorite and it is because the duo of Durant and Harden is the best in the league.
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