NBA History is littered with great duos. Jordan and Pippen. Shaq and Kobe. Nate Robinson and Glen Davis. No player can do it alone and more often than not, they have a right hand man to help shoulder the load.
The NBA offseason saw plenty of players find new homes and, consequently, find some new teammates. Not every pairing is made equal however. Sometimes players just don’t mesh well on the court. Other times, off the court issues make their way into the locker-room and divide the team. So, to decide which new NBA pairings could go down in flames and which could be a match made in heaven, lets break it down into two categories.
If a pair lands in the Kobe Bryant- Dwight Howard tier, there’s a chance for a blowup of epic proportions. If they’re in the LeBron James- Dwyane Wade tier, they’re probably going to be the next duo to post vacation pictures together during the offseason.
The Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard Tier
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins
Yeah, these two actually got together last season but 25 games is hardly a large enough sample size to see if these guys have the chemistry for a lasting relationship. After a full offseason and training camp, we should now have a much better idea whether these two All-Star big men can make it work
Honestly, it doesn’t look too promising. The Pelicans’ roster makes no sense right now. It’s fine to have two dominating big men down low but you have to surround them with shooters to help space the floor. The Pelicans’ starting backcourt has Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday. Rondo has never been able to shoot and Holiday is chronically injured.
The Pelicans have a whole lot of questions and very little time to answer them. Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer meaning the Pelicans have to convince him this can work fast or else they might have to trade Cousins to ensure sort of return.
LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas has often said he believes that he is the best player in the NBA. LeBron James is actually the best player in the NBA.
James likes players to stay in their lane, don’t do more than they’re asked and ultimately, let LeBron James be LeBron James. I’ve seen more than enough Thomas-transition threes with 16 seconds left on the shot clock to know that there is going to be a learning curve.
Thomas was the number one option in Boston and has said he can see himself as a franchise player and expects to be paid like one. Being a rich man’s Mario Chalmers isn’t going to make that happen. James also has plenty of other options besides Thomas. He can defer to Derrick Rose or his BFF Dwyane Wade if he’s not comfortable letting Thomas have the reigns. And whatever LeBron wants, LeBron usually gets.
Chris Paul and James Harden
This ranking isn’t so much about how the two all-star guards will fit on the court than how their personalities will mesh. Harden is a guy that doesn’t have a problem hitting up the clubs after a loss. Paul is a guy that will scream at you for 15 minutes if you don’t call out the screen.
I don’t expect there to be a problem on the court. Both players can share the ball and play without it. But if the Rockets start to slide I could see this tandem going south very quickly.
The LeBron James- Dwyane Wade Tier
Russell Westbrook and Paul George
Yes, the Thunder also added Carmelo Anthony but Anthony is probably going to play a role similar to the one Kevin Love does in Cleveland; stretching the floor and hitting open shots. He will be a major asset to the Thunder but he isn’t the main reason this will be one of the best teams to watch this year.
Paul George is going to be having dunk contents with Westbrook every night. George is one of the more versatile players in the NBA, able to guard every position and can score basically however he chooses. Westbrook is going to do what he does best; being the closest we have to a supernova in human form. These two should be able to run opposing teams off the floor and produce highlight reel plays night after night.
If all goes well for the Thunder, Paul George commits to staying in OKC and the NBA is better for it.
Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokić
Denver’s acquisition of Paul Millsap flew under the radar this offseason. Most people often forget that Denver has a professional basketball team and Millsap is a player that doesn’t produce a lot of highlight reel plays. But the four-time all star is the perfect player for the Nuggets to pair with their budding superstar in Jokić.
Millsap is a former member of the NBA’s all defensive team but is never mentioned when talking about the NBA’s best defensive big men. Millsap could end up being the perfect mentor to Jokić who, with all his potential, has yet to show he can be an above average defensive player.
Millsap’s two-year contract is also the perfect short-term solution for a team trying to make the playoffs immediately while not constraining the future. When Millsap’s contract comes off the books, the Nuggets will also be getting ready to open the checkbooks for Jokić. For two years, Millsap gets to be the best player on what should be a playoff team before turning over the franchise to Jokić. This duo is more Mr Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso than Shaq and Kobe but it should still be one of the better ones in the league.
Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward
Unlike most of the other pairings, which have one player joining the other’s team, these two All-Stars are both new to Boston. It’s hard to predict just how these two will fit in a system that is new to both of them.
But Celtics coach Brad Stevens is one of the brightest minds in basketball. These players are talented and versatile enough that if Stevens doesn’t make this work, it would be surprising.
Irving is going to have the opportunity to be a true point guard for the first time in years. We know Irving can score, but now he’s going to get his first chance to conduct a team since his early twenties on some truly abysmal Cavalier teams. Irving is a more complete player now and certainly has more talent around him.
Hayward is a player without major flaws in his game. He is a knockdown shooter from behind the arc but also a crafty scorer that can hit impossible shots inside the paint. It might take some time to work out the kinks, but these two could be really great together for a long time.
It’s about to be Crazy G.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @OfficialBrett.