Counting down the NBA's top 'Power Couples'
Beyonce and Jay-Z. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez.
Power couples have been the "in" thing for quite some time.
But when it came to NBA teams, the preference was to create super teams instead.
However, Kawhi Leonard’s decision to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and bring Paul George with him after George demanded a trade from Oklahoma City, has rocked the NBA landscape on many levels.
The return of the power couple to the NBA.
Here we take a look at the top 10 tandems in the NBA in what has been an offseason that truth be told, has yet to slow down … not even a little bit.
10. Dallas: Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis
This partnership is based solely on potential than actual play together. Doncic, rookie of the year this past season, was as good as advertised most of the year. While he certainly had his share of rough times near the end of the season, Doncic is an undeniable talent who is destined to be a star in this league. Porzingis will be returning after missing most of last season due to injury, but a 7-foot-3 baller with his skills? ...What’s not to like, right? It remains to be seen how quickly he will get back to being his old self. But when that day comes, watch out! The Mavericks will have a lethal 1-2 punch.
9. Boston: Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward or Jayson Tatum
The fact that the Celtics don’t have a clear No. 2 player, is at the heart of why they just crack the top 10. You know Walker is going to put up big numbers and be an impact player. But Hayward and Tatum come into this season with an element of uncertainty as to how much of a difference-maker either will be. With Hayward, it’s getting back to where he was a couple of years ago while Tatum needs to ascend to the level that his potential dictates he’s capable of reaching. Either one of those things happen, and the Celtics will again be in the conversation as being one of the NBA’s better teams.
8. Philadelphia: Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons
Both All-Stars, there’s a lot to like about them. Embiid has the dominant low-post game, is a good defender and can knock down 3’s on occasion. Simmons is the brilliant playmaker who is extremely tough to slow down when he’s going downhill. But each has a flaw that can’t be ignored. Embiid has tremendous talent, but you have to question his focus which tends to not be where it should be at times. And Simmons? The lack of confidence he has in his perimeter shooting to the point where he won’t take a lot of those shots - at all - is going to continue to put a cap of sorts on his potential. At his size (6-10), length and court vision playing the point, Simmons will remain a liability unless you surround him and Embiid, for that matter, with good shooters.
7. Portland: Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum
One of the highest-scoring backcourts in the NBA, Lillard has been the one to garner the All-Star nods through the years. But McCollum has shown himself to be a very good baller as well, considered by many as one of the NBA’s best players to have never been named an All-Star. All-Star or not, the Blazers have one of the best tandems in the NBA.
6. Denver: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray
This is one of those big man-wing player tandems that will only get better with time. Jokic is coming off a season in which he was a legitimate MVP candidate. And Murray, one of the few players from his draft class to get a contract extension, has emerged as one of the better young prospects to show All-Star potential. But delivering that play on a more consistent basis is what keeps him from being an All-Star.
5. Brooklyn: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
The idea of these guys not being in the top three among NBA teams is a hard pill to swallow. But here’s the thing. The whole point of them getting props for being a really good tandem, is because of how well they will play together. But with Durant likely out for all of the 2019-20 season, an entire season will pass before this tandem suits up together. And while Irving did sign a long-term deal (by today’s standards) to stay in Brooklyn, who knows what’ll happen this season that may very well alter his plans for the future. With Irving, as Celtics fans know all too well, anything is possible.
4. Milwaukee: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton
Here you have the MVP and one of the most cold-blooded snipers in the game in Middleton. While the Greek Freak gets a lot of attention and fanfare because of his out-of-this-world athleticism and the ability to deliver elite-level, highlight-worthy plays at both ends of the floor, Middleton has evolved into that constant No. 2 guy who can cause problems with his 3-point shooting as well as his mid-range game when defenders try to drive him off the 3-point line.
3. Houston: James Harden and Russell Westbrook
Those jokes you hear about there not being enough balls around, it gets kind of old. And when it comes to these two, it’s going to be less of an issue than most might think. Westbrook deferred more than usual a year ago because Paul George had risen to be more than just an All-Star but a legit MVP candidate. He knows what he’s getting into with Harden. The bigger concern has to do with their teammates who might spend more time than watching them instead of making plays on their own.
2. L.A. Lakers: LeBron James and Anthony Davis
This is a dynastic-type tandem when you consider how good both are and how much each impacts the game. However, both aren’t exactly men of steel when it comes to playing injury-free. LeBron James played a career-low 55 games last season while averaging a career-low 35.2 minutes. Davis appeared in just 56 games and like James is coming off a career-high in games missed. That x-factor of availability whether it’s load management or dealing with an injury, will be a major defining trait of this team.
1. L.A. Clippers: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
Here’s what makes Leonard and George such a tough-to-cover duo.
Both have the ability to dominate play from both ends of the floor. They have a level of trust that’s rooted in part to their California past and a desire by both at different times to get back to Los Angeles. But what really sets them apart is their interchangeability, which will make life a living hell for teams trying to take one out of their game and not both.