The NBA, at the least over the previous few 4 of 5 a long time, has been a league of superstars. Nevertheless, on the subject of crew success and successful championships, two are normally higher than one.
Here is a rating of the NBA’s prime teammate duos all through league historical past.
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As of early Might, James and Davis haven’t performed a full season collectively. Nevertheless, they’ve the Lakers in place with every averaging at the least 25 factors per contest. This pair makes the record for its potential going ahead — nonetheless lengthy they’re taking part in collectively in Los Angeles, that’s, which, in the intervening time, has Lakers followers excited and believing this might result in loads of success.
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Dirk and Nash spent six seasons collectively in Dallas from the late 1990s and into the 2000s. Although they didn’t ship an NBA championship to Mavericks followers, the pair led the membership to 4 straight playoff appearances throughout that stretch. As maybe the premier guard-forward combo on the time, Nowitzki and Nash had been constant scoring threats.
Chuck and KJ helped construct the Suns right into a Western Convention energy throughout their 4 seasons (1992-93-1995-96) collectively in Phoenix. Of their first of the 4, Barkley and Johnson led the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals towards the Chicago Bulls. Whereas Barkley additionally hung out in Philadelphia and Houston, Johnson performed all however a little bit of his 12 NBA seasons with the Suns.
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There have been loads of key contributors throughout the New York Knicks’ two title groups within the early 1970s (1970 and ’73), however these two had been the focal factors. The 6-foot-9 Reed was the star of the present, averaging at the least 20 factors in 5 of his 10 seasons with the Knicks. Frazier, in the meantime, was the showman. From the 1969-70 season to the ’73-74 marketing campaign, “Clyde” as he was recognized, averaged 21.5 factors whereas New York reached the NBA Finals 3 times throughout that span.
Drexler and Porter made up among the finest backcourts in NBA historical past. Sadly, they had been unable to deliver a championship to Portland however did take the Path Blazers to the Finals in 1990 and 1992. Maybe one of many extra underrated elements of their sport was the bodily play they dropped at the courtroom. They weren’t afraid to combine it up — on each ends of the ground.
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It is nonetheless form of stunning (although not utterly) that Durant and Westbrook had been unable to deliver a title to Oklahoma Metropolis throughout their time collectively. (they got here shut in 2012.) As we have realized, the 2 won’t have had the very best relationship as time went on. Once more, not utterly stunning when you could have two prolific offensive gamers who even have decent-sized egos. Nonetheless, cannot argue with the expertise each dropped at the desk when collectively.
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Shaq and Penny had been all the craze whereas taking part in in Orlando throughout the mid-1990s. Nonetheless among the finest inside-outside combos within the league, O’Neal averaged 27.2 factors and 12.5 rebounds throughout his 4 seasons with the Magic. Hardaway, in the meantime, poured in 19.5 factors and seven.zero assists throughout his three seasons taking part in alongside Shaq. Their spotlight collectively was taking the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995.
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The legendary Havlicek received eight titles with the Celtics. Two of these got here with big-man Cowens in tow in 1974 and ’76. Throughout that ’74 run, Havlicek averaged 22.6 factors, whereas Cowens scored 19 per sport. Cowens averaged the identical quantity in 1976 for the Celtics, who had a bevy of stars throughout their run of dominance by means of late 1950s and into the ’70s. However few had been as — or extra — constant than these two.
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Drexler and Olajuwon didn’t win an NCAA title at Houston. Nevertheless, the pair did deliver town one of many NBA selection throughout the 1994-95 season. Throughout that marketing campaign, Hakeem averaged a stellar 33 factors, 10.Three rebounds and 4.5 assists. Drexler, in the meantime, posted 20.5, 7.zero rebounds and 5.zero assists per contest en path to recording his solely NBA championship.
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Whereas the present Milwaukee Bucks have the look of an NBA champion, we harken again to the early days of the franchise. No offense to gifted scorer Bob Dandridge, who shined throughout the early days of the Bucks franchise, however Kareem and the “Huge O” had been the spine of Milwaukee’s run to the 1971 NBA championship. Jabbar averaged 31.7 factors with 16.zero boards, whereas Robertson put up 19.Four for a membership that received 66 regular-season video games.
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The Twin Towers — San Antonio model — received a pair of titles with the Spurs in 1999 and once more in 2003, the primary with Robinson nonetheless taking part in at a comparatively excessive stage. Duncan was in his second season when he received his first title for San Antonio and averaged 23.Eight factors with 11.5 rebounds. The Admiral, that very same marketing campaign, put up 15.6 factors and grabbed 10.zero boards per contest throughout the postseason.
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Although accidents have saved these two stars off the courtroom of late, they’re rightfully amid the very best duos within the historical past of the sport — in the intervening time and within the annals of the league. Curry, a profession 23.5-points-per-game scorer, and Thompson, at 19.5, have keyed the Warriors three NBA titles and 5 complete Finals appearances from 2014-15 to 2018-19. As soon as wholesome, it is going to be fascinating to see if they will discover that championship type once more.
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13. Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, Seattle SuperSonics
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Payton ended up successful a championship with Miami in 2006, however he and big-man Kemp loved some strong success in Seattle throughout the 1990s. In 1992-93, they helped the Sonics attain the Western Convention finals. Three seasons later, with Kemp placing up 19.6 factors and 11.Four boards per sport and “The Glove” scoring 19.Three a sport whereas shelling out 7.5 assists and taking part in his air-tight protection, Seattle reached the NBA Finals earlier than dropping to Chicago.
The Sixers most up-to-date NBA championship got here in 1983. And Philadelphia followers can thank Dr. J. and Moses for making that attainable. With Erving and Malone main the best way throughout their first of 4 seasons collectively in Philly, they averaged practically 50 factors mixed. The Sixers reached the Japanese Convention ultimate two seasons later with the 2 once more on the forefront.
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11. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
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Whereas Curry and Klay Thompson have established themselves as Warriors legends, the addition of Durant added to the dominance. It additionally introduced collectively two of the league’s greatest superstars. Within the three seasons (2016-17-2018-19) Curry and Durant led the Golden State cost, the membership received two championships and reached the Finals in 2019. Additionally throughout that point, Curry averaged 26.Three factors and Durant 25.8.
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The Dangerous Boys weren’t simply tough. They may additionally play, and that started with among the finest backcourt duos in NBA historical past. Whereas Thomas will go down as an elite playmaker and scoring level guard, Dumars grew as an offensive menace all through his 14-year profession. Throughout Detroit’s back-to-back titles in 1989 and ’90, Thomas and Dumars had been one-two in scoring, respectively.
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Chamberlain performed his ultimate 5 NBA seasons (1968-69-1972-73) with the Lakers. Collectively, he and West helped Los Angeles attain the NBA Finals in 4 of these years. They had been primarily the focus of franchise on the time. Although Chamberlain’s manufacturing waned towards the top of his profession, he and West celebrated an NBA title in 1972. West averaged 26.6 factors whereas taking part in alongside Wilt in L.A.
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Sure, Chris Bosh performed an integral a part of Miami’s dominance throughout the first half of the final decade. Clearly, James and Wade had been the superstars and had the Warmth taking part in at an elite stage. From 2010-11 to 2013-14, LeBron averaged 26.9 factors and Wade scored 22.2 per sport as Miami received two titles and in addition misplaced within the Finals the 2 different instances. We cannot go into their 2017-18 reunion in Cleveland.
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7. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
We touched on Duncan’s success with David Robinson, however Parker was there for that 2003 title. Along with Duncan, Parker and the Spurs received three extra NBA championships (2005, ’07 and ’04). One other nice inside-outside pair, Parker and Duncan had the form of chemistry wanted to win titles. Parker additionally proved himself as a succesful scorer and earned NBA Finals MVP honors in 2007.
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A pair of Olympic Dream Teamers and Corridor of Famers, Malone and Stockton had been enjoyable to look at. and it wasn’t simply because they had been nice gamers but additionally as a result of they knew one another so effectively. Stockton knew when and the place to feed to Malone, taking part in to his strengths whereas additionally using their collective dynamic. Although the Jazz reached the NBA Finals in 1997 and ’98, Malone and Stockton by no means received a title collectively.
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5. Larry Chook and Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics
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These two had been the center of the Celtics run of three NBA titles and 5 Finals appearances from 1980-81 to 1986-87. Whereas Chook was the famous person, McHale began out as a man who would do the soiled work. However from 1984-85 to 1989-90, McHale averaged practically 21 factors in every of these seasons. Credit score Chook, by the best way, with making it some extent to assist elevate McHale’s sport, particularly on the offensive finish, with out compromising his personal.
There have been loads of stars throughout the Celtics dynasty from the 1950s and ’60s. Nevertheless, collectively, Russell and Cousy had been stalwarts throughout Boston’s run of six NBA championships and 7 title-series appearances from 1956-57 to 1962-63. Throughout that span, the dominant Russell averaged at the least 16.6 factors in six of these seasons, whereas the smooth-moving Cousy scored 20 or extra per sport in two campaigns.
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3. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
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As we all know, Shaq and Kobe had their points when collectively, however they nonetheless received three straight NBA titles from 2000-’02. Additionally they reached the NBA Finals one other time, but many imagine the Lakers may have been much more dominant with the 2 collectively. Over time, their relationship healed, and O’Neal delivered a touching tribute to his late former teammate earlier this yr.
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2. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers
The true architects of “Showtime” in Los Angeles, this legendary duo helped the Lakers dominate the 1980s by successful 5 NBA titles and reaching the Finals one other 3 times whereas collectively. There was additionally a mutual respect for the opposite, one thing that stars of in the present day are inclined to have a tough time mustering with egos and paychecks clouding issues. No teammates performed off one another higher than Magic and Kareem.
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Those that have been taking in “The Final Dance” received a glimpse into the connection between these two Corridor of Famers who helped the Bulls to 6 NBA titles throughout the 1990s. Jordan is arguably the best participant in NBA historical past however admits he owes a great deal of that success to Pippen. Hailing from a small city in Arkansas, Pippen is thought to be one of many sport’s all-time nice defenders and averaged 20.Three factors from 1990-91 to 1997-98.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports activities and leisure on-line and for print for greater than 25 years. He grew up within the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Corridor of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s additionally the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine College in Chicago. You possibly can comply with Jeff at @jeffm401.