Ranking 10 best duos in NBA history, including two Warriors pairs
10. Karl Malone and John Stockton
Karl Malone and John Stockton spent 18 seasons together, putting up historic numbers for the Utah Jazz along the way.
Malone and Stockton went 900-506 in the regular season and won another 85 playoff games. They had 477.5 combined playoff and regular-season win shares. During their run together, Malone led the NBA in total points, scoring over 6,000 more than Michael Jordan.
In their time as pick-and-roll partners, Malone averaged 25.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while Stockton averaged 13.5 points and 10.8 assists.
Only Jordan and the Chicago Bulls kept them from getting to the top.
9. Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West
Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain were almost unstoppable together. Along with Elgin Baylor, they formed a Los Angeles Lakers trio that remains one of the best in NBA history.
But West and Chamberlain combined for 37.6 points per game while leading the Lakers to the 1972 title. During that run, Chamberlain led the team in rebounds at 21.0 per game while West racked up 8.9 assists per contest.
While together, West and Chamberlain went 214-74 in the regular season and 43-25 in the playoffs. They won only one title, though.
8. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant
Like a supernova, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant burned bright and they burned fast.
Once Durant joined the Warriors in the summer of 2016, the rest of the NBA didn't stand a chance. The Warriors blew through the competition in their first season with KD aboard, going 16-1 in the playoffs en route to the NBA title. They repeated the next season, although the waters were a little more turbulent. A third title would have been theirs to claim had Durant not ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
During their time together, Curry and Durant combined for 52.1 points, 11.4 assists and 6.6 3-pointers per game. Curry had a true shooting percentage of 64.3 while Durant's was 64.0. The three Warriors teams of the Steph and KD era rank first, second and third in effective field goal percentage in NBA history.
All told, Curry and Durant have a case as perhaps the most talented duo in history, but their short time together bumps them down the list a peg.
7. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker
You can make a case for Manu Ginobili to be in this spot with Duncan instead of Parker, but I'll go with the savvy point guard.
Duncan and Parker won four titles together, going 733-269 during the regular season and 131-81 in the playoffs. They won at least 50 games and made the playoffs in every season they played together.
Only a Ray Allen 3-pointer kept them from winning five titles and moving further up the list.
6. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale
The Causeway Street duo was something to behold.
Bird and McHale played 12 seasons together, winning three NBA championships during their time with the Boston Celtics. Bird and McHale were second and sixth in regular-season win shares and second and fourth in playoff win shares during that time.
Larry Legend averaged 24.6 points per game, 9.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists while McHale scored 18 a night and pulled down 7.4 rebounds.
Bird's all-around offensive arsenal, from his silky stroke to his passing and ball fakes made him one of the 10 greatest players in history, while McHale is one of the best power forwards in NBA history.
5. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson
We start this with the caveat that Curry and Thompson aren't done yet, but what they've done already puts them among the best duos in NBA history.
They won three titles together and went to five straight Finals. They took the notion that jump shooting teams couldn't win championships, took it out back and ripped it apart limb by limb. So far, they've gone 395-130 in the regular season and 77-34 in the playoffs together.
In their time together, Curry has averaged 25.1 points, 6.8 assists and four 3-pointers made per game, while Thompson has averaged 19 points and three triples per contest. They led the Warriors to a record 73 wins in 2016 and have forever changed the way basketball is played.
They come in at No. 5 not only because of what they have done, but they still can do at the height of their powers.
4. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
Four even feels low for the Heatles dynamic duo.
James and Wade won two titles together but were as unstoppable a duo as we've seen. At the peak of his powers, James averaged 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists while Wade averaged 22.2 points and 5.3 rebounds. They worked flawlessly off each other, posting a plus-10.1 per 100 possessions when on the floor with each other.
The NBA Finals losses to the Spurs and Dallas Mavericks is the only thing keeping these two from the top three.
3. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Ten seasons, five championships, three MVPs and 19 All-Star appearances, that's all Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did while with the Lakers.
Johnson was the architect of the Showtime Lakers and Abdul-Jabbar was the veteran center with a dominant post move. They went 506-179 in the regular season and 110-47 in the playoffs together.
While owning the 80s, Johnson averaged 19.4 points, 11.4 assists and 7.4 rebounds, while Abdul-Jabbar rung up 20.2 points and 7.4 assists per game.
They kept Bird and McHale from winning more titles and were the ideal one-two punch they were usurped by the two at the top of the list.
2. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
Arguably the best guard-big combo in NBA history, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant were an absolute force for eight seasons in LA.
They won three titles and could have won a lot more had egos not gotten in the way. During his physical prime, O'Neal led the NBA in win shares while Bryant was seventh during that time. Shaq averaged 27 points and 11. 8 rebounds per game while a young Bryant clocked in at 21.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists. They were even more dominant during their three-peat run. In those three postseasons, O'Neal scored 29.9 points and pulled down 14.5 rebounds while Bryant poured in 25.3 points per game.
To put a topper on O'Neal's dominance, in those three NBA Finals he averaged 35.9 points and 15.2 rebounds per game.
Had they stayed together, there's no telling what the ceiling was.
1. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
Led by the most dominant player of all time, the Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships during the 1990s. But Michael Jordan didn't do it without Scottie Pippen.
The Bulls' dynamic duo was the perfect complement to one another and they wreaked havoc on the NBA from 1987-1998 minus Jordan's time playing baseball.
During their run together, Jordan and Pippen ranked first and second in playoff win shares. Jordan averaged 31.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists, while Pippen put up 17.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
They had the NBA's best winning percentage during that time and led the Bulls to a then-record 72 wins in 1996.
They are the unquestioned best duo in NBA history.