The NBA season is fast approaching and there are still star duos across the league. We are one season removed from seeing a ton of dynamic duos put forth fantastic performances together. The Lakers ultimately had the best duo, with Anthony Davis and LeBron James completely stepping above the rest to win the Lakers the championship. But there were still some memorable duos that will be remembered for their impact together.
But that doesn't mean there won't be any breakups this season. We have already seen the break-up of superstar duo James Harden and Russell Westbrook in Houston, as their usage rates did not compliment each other. Harden and Westbrook were actually the best possible duo that could have been broken up this offseason, but there are other duos across the league who face similar problems.
In fact, we are likely to see 5 major duos breakup because teams will be rebuilding or looking for assets to go a new direction. With the new season fast approaching, here are the top 5 duos that can break up this season.
5. Donovan Mitchell & Rudy Gobert
Donovan Mitchell Statistics: 34.3 MPG, 24.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 44.9% FG
Rudy Gobert Statistics: 34.3 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 69.3% FG
Mitchell and Gobert are a nice duo because they are excellent on both ends of the floor. Mitchell is a fantastic scorer while Gobert might be the best defensive player in the NBA considering his impact around the rim. The Utah Jazz should value both of these players as untouchables, but team chemistry is ultimately the most important dynamic for team success.
Rumors spread that Gobert rubbed Mitchell the wrong way when he spread the Coronavirus around the team, especially when the Jazz were hoping for a deep Playoff run in 2020. Besides, the Jazz have not looked like a legitimate contender with Gobert and Mitchell together. It is possible that moving on from the defensive giant is the most valuable step for them to acquire more suitable assets around Mitchell who is a budding superstar.
4. DeMar DeRozan & LaMarcus Aldridge
DeMar DeRozan Statistics: 34.1 MPG, 22.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.6 APG, 53.1% FG
LaMarcus Aldridge Statistics: 33.1 MPG, 18.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 49.3% FG
DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have been involved in trade rumors for a few years now because they have not managed to carry the San Antonio Spurs to any kind of postseason success. DeRozan and Aldridge are unselfish players, but their style of plays seem to get in the way of each other. A duo as talented as them offensively should be leaders for their team and contending in the West every year instead of being mediocre.
This season might be the time San Antonio rebuilds and moves on from DeRozan or Aldridge, possibly both. The Spurs won't win with them together and one of them will likely be gone this season. DeRozan is a hotter commodity as he is still in his prime, while Aldridge is aging and will be 36 this season.
3. Damian Lillard & C.J. McCollum
Damian Lillard Statistics: 37.5 MPG, 30.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 8.0 APG, 46.3% FG
C.J. McCollum Statistics: 36.5 MPG, 22.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.4 APG, 45.1% FG
Lillard and McCollum are one of the best duos in the league because of their offensive firepower. Lillard is a superstar and McCollum is a man capable of going off for 40 any night. Their scoring ability led the team to the Western Conference Finals 2 years ago, which is very impressive. However, last season was an entirely different story as the Portland Trail Blazers were mediocre and were lucky to even get into the playoffs.
It is expected that McCollum will be gone this season. Lillard is an untouchable player as a top-10 player in the NBA, but McCollum can be moved for some more suitable talent to help Lillard. The Trail Blazers improved this season by signing Robert Covington and also have Jusuf Nurkic and Carmelo Anthony back. Perhaps moving McCollum for another star could help Portland get over the hump.
2. Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid
Ben Simmons Statistics: 35.4 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 8.0 APG, 58.0% FG
Joel Embiid Statistics: 29.5 MPG, 23.0 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 47.7% FG
It is obvious that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid hasn't quite worked in Philadelphia just yet. Simmons can't shoot and that means Embiid can't dominate the game as much as he is capable of. Simmons can't seem to be effective at all from the outside, and Philadelphia have scrambled to find shooters this offseason. Joel Embiid also tends to fade in and out of games which can be a problem as well.
Hiring Doc Rivers was a big improvement for the Sixers, but that doesn't mean the All-Star duo can't be broken up. If a package improves the team, for either Embiid or Simmons, Philly should jump at it because teams like the Bucks and Heat will continue to improve. Time will tell if one of the two franchise stars will be broken up this season.
1. Jayson Tatum & Kemba Walker
Jayson Tatum Statistics: 34.3 MPG, 23.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 45.0% FG
Kemba Walker Statistics: 31.1 MPG, 20.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 42.5% FG
The best duo that can be broken up is Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. Rumors came out that the Celtics tried to trade Kemba Walker, even though he had a strong season last year. Jayson Tatum is one of the best young players in the world and looks to be the franchise star that Boston will need going forward. Helping him win-now with more talent should be the best move for the franchise, and Kemba Walker might be the sacrificial lamb for that.
Kemba Walker is more of a scoring point guard than a playmaker, which is both a good and a bad thing. Walker's scoring prowess helps relieve pressure off of Tatum although a playmaker might be better suited for Boston's squad. Kemba Walker won't be traded for just anyone, although if an attractive asset comes available in the market like Bradley Beal, expect Boston to dangle their All-Star point guard for a chance to get over the hump in the East.