NBA 2019/2020 SEASON: THE ERA OF DYNAMIC DUOS
When Kawhi and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat and their big three, it highlighted Miami’s vulnerability and caused the departure of Lebron James thus ending the Heat’s superteam. As a result of losing the Finals with their most stacked team in team history, the Warriors fell through the same hole. Both Kevin Durant and Demarcus Cousins left in free agency, and Klay Thompson is dealing with a torn ACL. The Warriors’ reign of terror upon the NBA was over.
Although superteams have been the norm in the past decade, a new era has emerged via the split up of the Warriors. Days after the Warriors lost, the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to trade Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, forming a superstar duo with Lebron James. Then, at the start of free agency, Kevin Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, but he didn’t come by himself instead choosing to team up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. And then in early July, when everyone thought Kawhi was going to make a three-headed monster in LA with Lebron and Davis, he surprised everyone by agreeing to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers while practically forcing them to make a trade to acquire Paul George.
For the first time in ages, the NBA is looking as open as ever as there are at least eight teams with a very good shot at winning the NBA finals. Superteams are out the window and dynamic duos are in season. Below, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER are some of the duos to watch out for in the upcoming season, some of them have already been on display in the pre-season games.
(PPG = Points Per Game; APG = Assists Per Game; RPG = Rebounds Per Game; PIE = Player Impact Estimate)
1. KEVIN DURANT & KYRIE IRVING – BROOKLYN NETS
(Combined 2018-2019 statistics: 49.8 ppg, 12.8 apg, 11.4 rpg, 31.9 PIE)
Figure 1: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
This comes with a huge asterisk as KD suffered one of the more damaging injuries to an athlete’s career. Coming off an Achilles injury and playing at the same skill level before the injury is a very rare feat. When KD returns in 2021, we’ll be seeing a very different Durant. However, when fully healthy, this duo would be a matchup nightmare.
2. KLAY THOMPSON & STEPHEN CURRY – GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
(Combined 2018-2019 statistics: 48.8 ppg, 7.6 apg, 9.1 rpg, 25.5 PIE)
Figure 2: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
Many fans tend to forget Klay and Steph, with the help of Draymond, carried the Warriors to a NBA record 73-9 regular season. Of course, the league was a lot less competitive and Klay was 100% healthy back then, but Klay and Steph shot their way to the Finals and they can certainly do it again. Yes, Klay is coming off an ACL injury, but he’s expected to be back next season and coming off an ACL injury is less severe than coming off an Achilles injury. Any team with two of the best shooters in NBA history has a chance of reaching the Finals, so don’t forget about the Splash Brothers. GSW however signed D’Angelo Russel to team up with Curry this season.
3. JAMES HARDEN & RUSSELL WESTBROOK – HOUSTON ROCKETS
(Combined 2018-2019 statistics: 59 ppg, 18.2 apg, 17.7 rpg, 36.5 PIE)
Figure 3: James Harden and Russell Westbrook
As free agency buzz cooled down, the Rockets came out of nowhere and traded for Russell Wesbrook in exchange for Chris Paul and draft picks. Former MVPs and teammates, Westbrook and Harden are bound to make Houston a dominating force in the West. Their combined stats alone from last year should already make you shiver. The only interesting aspect of this duo is how they’re going to share the ball given Harden and Westbrook are both known to be ball dominant players. This particular concern has started becoming a reality as Harden is yet to adapt his game to Westbrook’s presence as seen in pre-season. Nonetheless, both players are team leaders and can score and pass efficiently. Will Westbrook finally be the key to take James Harden to the Finals? Guess we’ll just have to watch.
4. KAWHI LEONARD AND PAUL GEORGE – LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
(Combined 2018-2019 statistics: 54.6 ppg, 7.4 apg, 15.5 rpg, 33.3 PIE)
Figure 4: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
Not only will this duo combine for 60 points on any given night, but they will lock you up faster than they locked up Naira Marley. Imagine being unable to go around Kawhi, calling a screen, and then having Paul George switched on to you. Both players were MVP nominees just last season and one just won a championship. They have experience, leadership, a dominant offense game and scary defensive presence. Out of this list, George and Kawhi make up the most dominantly balanced team and a true problem on both sides of the court. You saw what Kawhi just did with Lowry and Siakam. Now, let’s see what he can do with Paul George, mind you, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, both nominees (and the latter the winner) for sixth man of the year, last season are also on this same team.
5. LEBRON JAMES AND ANTHONY DAVIS – LOS ANGELES LAKERS
(Combined 2018-2019 statistics: 53.3 ppg, 12.2 apg, 20.5 rpg, 38.5 PIE)
Figure 5: LeBron James and Anthony Davis
Having Lebron as a teammate is an automatic ticket to the NBA Finals. Of course, due to injury and lackluster roster, James missed his first NBA Finals since 2010 last season. Now, James is fully healthy again and who does he have by his side but none other than Anthony Davis. Lebron’s game speaks for itself, but Anthony Davis is truly a top five player in this league but had been plagued by bad rosters in New Orleans. Although only playing 56 games last year, Davis has steadily been improving his game. Already a monster in the post and automatic bucket from mid range, Davis’ three point percentage hit a career high 34% in 2017 and stayed around that mark at 33.1% in 2018 despite playing less minutes and 19 less games. Davis, who is already a defensive beast, is starting to score from anywhere on the court and at a high percentage, so mix that with Lebron James and you have a duo that can tear this league in two.
No one can say for sure how well these duos would work and which of them would be the best, one thing that is however certain is that the season would be extremely entertaining. I honestly can’t wait. Can you?
Source: thesidelineobserver.com; Google images