Last year, the NBA transitioned from big threes and superteams to dynamic duos. LeBron James and Anthony Davis teamed up to lead the Lakers to an NBA championship, while others did similar patterns in hopes to accomplish the same thing. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teamed up with the Clippers, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook were a duo for one season. Even Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving burned the Knicks to joined the Brooklyn Nets.
The 2019 season was potentially the beginning of teams transitioning back to the days of power duos. Over the last 10 years, we had some pretty great dynamic duos. You could even say that some were Hall of Fame worthy. Now that most of these duos do not exist anymore, it's easy to look back and realize that we took some of their production for granted because they never won a championship together.
5. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge
Before Lillard came to town, this was Aldridge's team. Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2006 before infamously traded to Portland, Aldridge became a quick fan favorite among Trail Blazers fans. Aldridge enjoyed success from 2006 to 2011, averaging close to 18 points and eight rebounds. Two years before Lillard was drafted, Aldridge averaged 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds and then 21.7 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Once Lillard was drafted in 2012, Aldridge went on a run of three straight All-Star appearances, including the 2014 season where both Lillard and Aldridge represented the Trail Blazers in the All-Star Game. The duo led the franchise to one postseason appearance before the team was eliminated by the Spurs in the second round. The following season, Aldridge left for the Spurs.
4. John Wall and Bradley Beal
Before Beal became the league's leading scorer, he was playing sidekick to John Wall. From 2012 to 2018, the two propelled Washington into contention. In 2014 and 2015, the Wizards made the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated. In 2017, the team made the second round, nearly making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
From 2014 to 2016, Wall averaged a double-double of points and assists. From 2016 to 2018, Beal scored at least 20 points or more, capping off at 25.6 points per game in 2018. The two were lethal threats on the floor offensively and put on a show when they were both on the court. Wall later tore his Achillies, which led to him missing a season and later being traded to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook.
3. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul
Despite the Clippers never making the Western Conference Finals, the two gave life to a struggling franchise. Griffin, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick, was the first building block. It wasn't until Paul joined the team in 2011 that "Lob City" became a staple of the Staples Center. With Paul at the helm, Griffin rattled off five straight All-Star seasons, four All-NBA appearances, and was one of the flashiest dunkers from the early 2010s.
Paul was beloved for his ability to create for others. He averaged a double-double of points and assists from 2013 to 2015, frequently setting up Griffin. The Clippers went from lackluster to exciting with these two playings in L.A. and we didn't appreciate those highlights as much as we should have.
2. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan
These two will eventually have their jerseys hanging in the rafters one day. While DeRozan was not part of the championship team in 2019, he was the integral piece that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto. He also left as a fan favorite that leads the franchise in points. DeRozan was drafted by the Raptors in 2010, while Lowry joined the team in 2012. From 2012 to 2018, the two helped Toronto play at a high level, nearly leading the team to the NBA Finals in 2016.
Lowry and DeRozan gave the Raptors two guys that would give you 20 points and about six assists every night. They led the Raptors to a six-game series against the Cavaliers in 2016. Before Lowry and DeRozan, the Raptors had made the playoffs just two times since 2002. With both guys at the helm, the Raptors made the postseason five years in a row.
1. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
The combination of young Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden lead the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012, but the combination of Durant and Russ did so much more for fans everywhere. Both are electric scorers and high-level finishers. Durant joined the Thunder, SuperSonics at the time, and Westbrook joined one year later. From 2008 to 2015, the city of Oklahoma City was spoiled.
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Durant won four scoring titles playing alongside Westbrook. Westbrook averaged 20 points or more the last six seasons together, including a double-double of points and assists in their final year together. The year before Durant joined the 73-win Warriors, the Thunder owned a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals before losing the final three games. When franchises move to a new location, they hope they have the star talent to sell tickets. The Thunder had two of the top 20 players to ever play the game open up their franchise move to OKC.