The NBA is a league that has been around for decades, and now the 2021 season will be one of its greatest yet. The top 10 best duos we’re about to countdown are near unanimous in their ranking positions, but there’s still room for debate on which player goes first or last. Let us know who you believe should go where!
The “best nba duos 2021” is a list of the top 10 best NBA Duos for the 2021 season. The list includes players from both the Eastern and Western Conference.
GM Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics pulled off a basketball miracle in the summer of 2007, acquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in separate agreements. The current superteam era has begun.
With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron James departed Cleveland for the beaches of Miami in 2010, establishing one of the best “Big-3’s” the NBA has ever seen. The era of the superteam is here.
In the year 2021, celebrity trios are no longer fashionable. The era of duos has here.
Because of Jamal Murray’s ACL injury and Michael Porter’s back problems, Nikola Jokic, the league MVP in 2021, does not make our list. The Serbian big man with the Denver Nuggets doesn’t have a good enough partner to qualify.
LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, two young talents who are both All-Star possibilities, have propelled the Charlotte Hornets into the postseason discussion. They aren’t on our list either; they haven’t arrived yet.
Following that, we’ll go through the top 10 NBA duos.
Mentions of Merit
Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns has developed into one of the league’s greatest high-volume three-point shooters, ranking third in shooting % among all players who have attempted six or more three-point attempts. More significantly, he’s now playing high-level defense after failing on the less glamorous end of the field throughout his first six seasons in the league. Towns’ aggressive play in the middle has helped the Timberwolves rank 10th in the league in defensive rating. He’s enabling his teammates to play disruptive D on the perimeter by defending 14.2 shots per game and disrupting opponents’ efforts at the basket. For the first time in what seems like an eternity, the Timberwolves are 11-10 and in postseason contention. This season, Karl Anthony-Towns is an All-Star.
Anthony Edwards is a bucket machine this season, averaging 22.1 points per game off one of the league’s most explosive first steps. Unfortunately, his overall playmaking abilities haven’t kept pace with his scoring ability. He’s averaging just 3.5 dimes per game. When Anthony Edwards begins creating for his teammates, he’ll help the Minnesota Timberwolves become contenders, and he’ll pair up with Karl-Anthony Towns to become one of the league’s most lethal duos.
CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard
Image courtesy of Getty Images
The offensive troubles of Damian Lillard this season have been widely chronicled. Through the first quarter of 2021-2022, his points per game have dropped from 28.8 last year to 21.5. He’s making just 39.7% of his total field goal attempts, and he’s shooting 9.1 shots from beyond the arc each game and hitting only 30.2 percent of them. Lillard has a reputation for being a great attacking weapon and a poor defender. Surprisingly, he’s completely reversed his own script, not just by playing badly on the offensive end but also by ramping up his perimeter defense. With Lillard on the field, the Trailblazers have improved their defense by 4.3 points. Damian Lillard continues to be a net plus for Portland.
CJ McCollum is averaging 20.3 points per game, but he isn’t quite as efficient as Lillard. On 18.4 attempts a game, he’s shooting 42.7 percent from the field. Unfortunately, unlike his backcourt running partner, McCollum hasn’t boosted his defensive effort; in fact, he’s been so porous on the less glamorous end that the Blazers are averaging -13 points per possession with him on the floor, putting him in the 13th percentile of all NBA players.
Trae Young and John Collins are tenth and tenth respectively.
courtesy of Getty Images
Trae Young is an offensive force to be reckoned with. He’s averaging 118.5 points per 100 shot attempts (88th percentile), with a 41.9 assist rate that puts him in the league’s 98th percentile. Trae Young has been the top offensive player in the league outside of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant from 2021 to 2022. He can kill teams from long range (39.4 3P percent), midrange (51.7 percent from 10-16 feet and 50.0 percent from 16-3P), and he can shoot a floater in the lane. He’s also a fantastic passer, able to target open shooters in the corner off swing passes and locate microscopic gaps off drive and kicks. Young has trouble on defense. He is harassed on all three levels of the court since he is 6-2. He’s been so good on offensively this season that his defense can’t take away from his total worth. For example, with Trae Young on the floor, the Hawks are 10.7 points better, one of the top records in the league.
Trae Young’s and John Collins’ profiles are oddly similar. He’s a fantastic attacking player but a terrible defender. Collins makes a stunning 78.8% of his rim shots, but he’s more than simply an inside bruiser. In addition, he’s making 36.8% of his 2.7 three-point tries a game. Collins, 24, isn’t yet ready to lead a defense. The Atlanta Hawks’ defensive rating (110.7) ranks them 23rd in the NBA, knocking out most of their strong scoring. Collins will have to work hard on defense if the Hawks are to improve much from their 11-10 record.
Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic are ranked 9th and 9th, respectively.
The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is a one-man show on offense. He has the league’s highest usage rate of 40.4 percent, as well as the top assist rate of 44.8 percent. Luka Doncic is averaging 25.5 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, and 8.3 assists per game, stats that should help him and Porzingis climb to the top of our list. Unfortunately, Doncic’s total burden takes a toll on his two-way impact on the game. He’s only shooting 43.9 percent from the field this season, and his defensive effort has decreased. He’s allowing his assignments to hit 5.5 percent higher than average, and the Mavericks’ defense is 10.0 points poorer with Doncic on the field, one of the league’s worst records.
Kristaps Porzingis averages 19.6 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, and 1.6 blocks per game. He’s had a very error-free season, just turning the ball over 1.4 times per game (88th percentile). Porzingis’ defense is more essential than his strong offensive start to the season. He’s supplied backline defense for a Dallas team that lacks a top-tier perimeter ball stopper. Kristaps has defended 13.9 shots per game, the most on the team, and the Mavericks have been excellent on the defensive end with him in the lineup, keeping opponents to -2.4 points per 100 possessions.
Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are ranked 8th and 8th, respectively.
(Image courtesy of Heaven32)
Rudy Gobert has already made a strong argument for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s allowing 18.4 shots per game, which is the most in the league, and opposition players have a 37.7% shooting percentage, which is the third-best among all centers. Through the first quarter of 2021-2022, the Utah Jazz have ranked fourth in the NBA in defense, thanks to Gobert’s rim protection, which has allowed Jazz wings to pressure perimeter offensive players beyond the arc, denying them three-point opportunities and daring them to face “The Stifle Tower” in the lane. Gobert is averaging 15.1 points per game and shooting 73.1 percent from the field on offense. Early in his career, the Frenchman was mostly a putback specialist, but he’s since forged a strong pick-and-roll partnership with Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.
Donovan Mitchell is having a bad season, which drops Gobert and him down our rankings. He’s averaging 23.2 points per game and 5.1 assists per game. In today’s NBA, solid stats aren’t enough. But it’s his defense that has me concerned. He’s allowed the players he’s guarded to shoot 9.4 percent better than their typical average during the first month of the season, one of the worst records among starting guards in the league. Teams have started to exploit Mitchell’s flaws, forcing him to go to Mike Conley for easier shots. So far, Gobert has covered most of Mitchell’s gaffes, but this is the kind of opening that opponents will exploit in the postseason.
7. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler
via Sun Sentinel of South Florida
Jimmy Butler is similar to Chris Paul in that statistics do not accurately reflect his entire influence. That isn’t to suggest he hasn’t put out a lot of work. Butler is averaging 23.6 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 5.3 assists per game, and 2.1 steals per game. His enthusiasm and self-assurance are contagious. On both ends of the court, he works hard and isn’t afraid to take on the best players in the world. His attitude rubs off on his teammates, imbuing them with a little bit extra that makes a huge difference against the league’s best teams.
Bam Adebayo is one of the few players in the game who can switch to a point guard off a pick and roll and smother him before switching back to a big man and stopping him from getting to the hoop. His versatility to play all five spots is crucial, and it offers head coach Erik Spoelstra an advantage when it comes to game planning against three-point shooters and pick-and-roll specialists. Bam defends 4.5 three-point attempts a game, allowing opponents to hit on just 30.9 percent of their efforts, and he defends 3.5 rim shots per game, surrendering a solid 66.7 percent of the time. Adebayo is averaging 18.7 points per game on offense, which is a better statistic than it seems given that the Heat play at one of the slowest paces in the league (27th in the league). Adebayo has never been a brilliant long-range shooter, and he’s eliminated the three-point shot from his repertoire this season, raising his total efficiency to 51.9 percent.
Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins are ranked 6th and 6th, respectively.
NBC Sports contributed to this article.
“Stephen Curry is enjoying a spectacular season,” the advanced numbers scream from the screen. Curry is most known for his attacking prowess, but his defense has been outstanding this season. With him on the court, the Warriors are 8.2 points better on defense, as he holds his assignments to a 36.8% field goal percentage. On offense, he bends the floor in ways we’ve never seen before for his teammates. Curry shoots 13.1 three-pointers a game, with 41.2 percent of them hitting. But it’s not only his numbers. His outside stroke puts continual pressure on opposing defenders and allows his teammates to shoot long-range bombs or run lanes to the hoop. With Curry on the court, the Warriors are 18.7 points per 100 possessions better, which translates to a mind-boggling +36 victories over the course of an 82-game season.
Here are some interesting facts: Andrew Wiggins is just 26 years old, yet he leads the Warriors (18-3) in scoring and defends the most field goal attempts. Wiggins seems to have been in the league for a long time, yet he is just now reaching his peak. He’s finally figured out what he wants to do in the NBA. Wiggins is averaging 18.6 points per game on 49.0 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range, giving Stephen Curry a reliable outlet against double teams. He’s also one of the league’s top wing defenders. The Warriors are the best defensive team in the world in 2021-2022, and it’s not even close (100.4 DEFRTG VS the 2nd place Clippers at 104.0). Wiggins terrorizes opposing wings on the perimeter, stuffing shots from the three-point line and shutting down opponent attempts to get into the lane. Draymond Green mans the middle, and Wiggins terrorizes opposing wings on the perimeter, stuffing shots from the three-point line and shutting down opponent attempts to get into the lane.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are ranked 5th and 5th, respectively.
Twitter/NBA Central are the sources for this information.
It took DeRozan 22 games in 2021-2022 to shift his league opinion. He was dubbed an attacking specialist who couldn’t defend by his peers. This season, he’s focusing on athletes who aren’t having as much fun. The Chicago Bulls are ranked seventh in defense, and although Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso get much of the credit for the team’s improved defense, DeRozan may be the most important ball-stopper on the team. With a defensive rating of 100.6, he leads the Bulls regular rotation players in defensive rating, and his defensive on/off splits are in the 94th percentile, according to Cleaning the Glass. We haven’t even touched on the lighter side of things. DeMar is the sixth highest scorer in the league, averaging 25.9 points per game and a perfect 48.9% field goal percentage. He’s been the Bulls’ go-to offensive weapon on stale half-court opportunities, averaging 1.24 points per possession on isolation plays, which ranks fifth in the NBA.
Zach LaVine is a ruthless attacking weapon. This season, he’s shown that he has a little Stephen Curry in him. He’s averaging 7.5 three-point attempts per game, with one-dribble launches, step backs, and around screens accounting for the majority of his efforts. His shooting ability bends defenses and creates spaces for DeRozan or Lonzo Ball to shoot free-and-clear bombs from long range. LaVine has also improved his defense, allowing his opponents to shoot just 44.3 percent from the field. The Chicago Bulls are winning for the first time in what seems like an eternity, and LaVine’s two-way performance is a big reason for that.
Chris Paul and Devin Booker are the fourth and fifth players on the list.
In a matchup of the league’s two finest teams, Chris Paul’s Suns defeated the Golden State Warriors 18-3 on Tuesday night. Paul scored 15 points and gave out 11 assists, but his stats don’t reflect his significance. Like a magician with mystical abilities, he crushed the Warriors, dominating the game down the stretch without his running buddy Devin Booker (hamstring injury). He was on every single play in crunch time, and he locked down the perimeter on defense, grabbing five steals and helping to keep MVP frontrunner Stephen Curry from having his worst shooting night of the season, a 4-21 catastrophe.
Last year’s playoffs proved that Devin Booker is one of the finest wings in the league, scoring 27.3 points per game and pulling the Suns over the finish line on his back at times. This season, Booker seems to be more ready to take a break and allow his teammates do the hard job. He’s still averaging 23.2 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 40.3 percent from outside the arc, but his shot attempts are down. With Booker well rested and ready to burst during the NBA’s second season, his Suns are 18-3, tied for the best record in the league, and seem prepared to make another long playoff run.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the third and fourth players on the list.
This season, LeBron James has only appeared in 11 Lakers games, which has thrown off his rhythm and fitness. Despite this, he’s averaging 25.8 points per game, 6.8 assists per game, and 5.2 rebounds per game. The Lakers have struggled to stay afloat this season, with a 12-11 record. But it makes no difference. No team wants to see LBJ in the postseason. Nobody has as much power over the game as he does. He’s Chris Paul, except he’s 75 pounds heavier and nine inches taller. LeBron James combines basketball intelligence with physicality in a manner we’ve never seen before, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
Anthony Davis is having a terrible season from the field. Even though he’s making just 19.6% of his three-point tries, he’s still ranked 11th in the NBA’s catch-all advanced measure, Player Efficiency Rating. Despite his shooting struggles, Anthony Davis is averaging 24.3 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game, 2.3 blocks per game, and 1.3 steals per game. The “Stifle Tower” can’t keep up with him on defense, and he can’t get past him on offense, thus AD sends chills down Rudy Gobert’s spine. In the playoffs, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic also doesn’t want to deal with AD’s speed and quickness. Because he dribbles like a shooting guard, stuffs the rim with bombs, and plays defense better than just a handful of players in the world, AD is a matchup nightmare for the league’s greatest big men.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are the second and third best players in the NBA.
Take a look at Giannis’ advanced metrics if you thought Curry’s were remarkable. His on-again, off-again numbers are ridiculous: With “The Greek Freak” on the court, the Bucks are 16.1 points better on defense and 14.9 points better on offense per 100 possessions. Giannis is unconcerned about last year’s championship; he has already forgotten about it. Every night, he comes in and gives it his all on both sides of the floor. While playing I-want-to-break-your-soul defense, he’s averaging 27.0 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.8 BPG, and 1.1 SPG. With a PIE of 21.3, Giannis is second in the NBA, and he has that Kobe stare that screams, “I will not settle for one chip.” Before I’m done, I’d want to make a few banners.”
Khris Middleton’s numbers aren’t very spectacular. He’s averaging 16.8 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per game, while shooting 32.0 percent from beyond the arc. It makes no difference. He’s been out for a while due to injury, but he’s steadily getting back into condition. The Bucks are winless without Middleton; they’re 10-3 when he’s in the lineup and.500 when he’s not. Night in and night out, he guards the opposition team’s top perimeter threat; his shooting stroke helps spread the field for Giannis’s basket rushes, and he can create for himself in the half-court. Middleton would score 27 points per game for a lottery club like the Detroit Pistons. That’s the kind of attacking force he is.
1. James Harden and Kevin Durant
Getty Images/Steven Ryan
The Brooklyn Nets got out to a rough start, but now they’re 15-6 and in first place in the Eastern Conference. Nobody wants to see LeBron James in the playoffs; double that by two, and you have the terror Kevin Durant instills in opponents. On the basketball floor, he’s the one player on the earth who other teams don’t want to see take the game’s last shot. Durant and Curry are tied for the league lead in scoring with 28.6 points per game, and his shooting splits are insane: 76.1 percent near the basket, 53.0 percent from 3 to 10 feet, 52.5 percent from 10 to 16 feet, 64.9 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line, and 38.9 percent from deep. He makes effective shots from anywhere on the floor because to his length and fast first step. His defense is also rather good. He’s not afraid to move to wings from beyond the arc or body up big players down low.
James Harden got out to a poor start, but he’s been improving in recent weeks. With 21.0 points per game, 9.3 assists per game, and 8.0 rebounds per game, the former MVP is the league’s closest to a triple-double. More significantly, he’s regaining the burst he lost during the summer while recovering from a hamstring ailment that kept him indoors. Harden has gradually returned to his old one-on-one ways, and he’s currently ranked 15th in isolated output, averaging 1.10 points per possession, following the first quarter of the season. Harden will never be a good defender because he is too sluggish. Still, “The Beard” is putting in the effort on the less enjoyable end of the spectrum. He’s battling around screens, digging against dribble drives, and closing out beyond the arc.
In today’s NBA, duos rule supreme.
Basketball is a sport that is played in groups. At the same time, a strong pair may be the difference between winning a championship and losing in the lottery.
All of the guys on our list have the ability to take their team to new heights. One of these teams will almost certainly win the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the conclusion of the season. Injuries will be a factor. Luck will also play a role.
Still, at the conclusion of the season, chemistry, skill, and hard work will decide which pairing helps their team reach the summit. It is, without a doubt, the age of the pair.
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