The NBA has become a league of All-Star duos. We have seemingly moved on from the Big Three era, and now have multiple teams that have two All-Star players.
Perhaps the two major All-Star duos reside in Los Angeles, as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are often compared with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Clearly, these two great duos will likely not be broken up anytime soon no matter the outcome of this year's playoffs. But the same cannot be said for some other excellent duos. In fact, the writing may be on the wall for 5 major teams.
Here are the five duos that could break up next season.
5. James Harden and Russell Westbrook
James Harden and Russell Westbrook might have the greatest potential to be the most offensively dominant duo in the league. They are both unstoppable in one-on-one situations and can do everything from score the ball to assist for open shots.
James Harden is the leading scorer in the league, averaging 34.4 PPG and also 7.4 APG to go along with it. Westbrook isn't far behind, averaging 27.5 PPG and 7.0 APG this season. Clearly, the Rockets go as Russ and Harden go, so they will both have to be 110% if they want to give the team a chance to win it all. If they don't perform well in the off-season, the Rockets might split them up and move Russ for someone else.
4. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid
Perhaps no duo in the league has had more breakup rumors than Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Simmons is limited offensively and does most of the scoring inside the paint although he's an excellent playmaker. Embiid can play like an old school big man and also score from outside, but this duo doesn't seem to work as well as it should.
Embiid is having another terrific year, averaging 23.4 PPG and 11.8 RPG while shooting 47.4%. Simmons is also having a terrific year, and he's putting up 16.7 PPG and 8.2 APG. If the 76ers don't get past the second round of the playoffs, it might be time to split up this duo and possibly move Joel Embiid.
Simmons might do well with an All-Star forward or guard playing alongside him, which would open up the paint a bit more for him to operate.
3. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum
In terms of "watchability" and pure excitement, Lillard and McCollum rank among the best duos in the league. It is very hard to find two players who can create their own shots and score the ball at will, but Portland have two guys just like that. It seems unbelievable that last year they were in the Western Conference Finals when they are fighting for the playoffs right now.
Portland have been horrific all year, and only recently started playing better before the season got suspended due to the Coronavirus. But if Dame or CJ don't show up together or if the Blazers fail to even make the playoffs, the writing may be on the wall for C.J. McCollum. Damian is the superstar of this team, and Portland needs to surround him with enough pieces to create a championship contender. McCollum is a great player, but he's not Damian Lillard so he may be the expendable one.
2. Bradley Beal and John Wall
It might be frustrating for Washington fans because Beal and Wall really should have been split up years ago. The Wizards had a pretty good team with the likes of Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris on the squad, but the team failed to make any sort of impact in the East and the two backcourt stars seemed to clash. If your two best players don't get along, it's time to move one of them.
Bradley Beal has turned into the best player in the team right now, although John Wall is still nursing a seemingly never-ending injury. The Wizards are going absolutely nowhere this year, so this duo will likely not be together next season.
1. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell
Rudy Gobert has not looked very good for the NBA this year. He got the star of the team in Donovan Mitchell sick with the Coronavirus, and he also might be partly responsible for the NBA halting the season. While of course this is a worldwide pandemic and he shouldn't be blamed entirely, Gobert should have been more careful not to make matters worse. Rumors came along that Mitchell was frustrated with Gobert's antics and that their relationship was soured.
Even beyond their apparent beef, the Jazz might not have enough to win it this year. If they don't show up, Gobert and Mitchel might be split up. Gobert is a defensive monster once again, averaging 2.0 BPG and 13.7 RPG while Mitchell is holding his own with his 24.2 PPG average. If the Jazz don't click, moving one of these stars (likely Gobert) might get them on track to compete with the likes of the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks.