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Jokic and Murray—The Dynamic Duo

For some reason, my editor frowned upon my original idea entitled, “Who Doesn’t Want a Threesome?” so, I dropped it to a duo. With Paul George teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, and Lebron having tacos with Anthony Davis and the Lakers, the question begs the answer: where does the duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray rank among the NBA elite?

The rules are simple.  Some guys are old, some guys are injured, but if you were starting a team tomorrow and had the choice of the following dynamic duos, how would they rank? Here’s how I see it.

  • Lebron James and Anthony DavisLos Angeles Lakers In case I need to remind you, Lebron is a 15-time All-NBA, 6-time All-Defensive Team, 4-time MVP, and 3-time NBA Champion. At 34 years-of-age his game may be slipping a bit.  James only averaged 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists last year, shooting 51%. Anthony Davis is a 6’10 PF who played point guard in high school, averaged 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists last season.  Pick and Roll, transition game, post, three, whatever—this duo will dominate assuming Lebron stays healthy.  This duo gets the nod over Kawhi and George for one reason. Lebron is still the best player in the NBA, assuming he is transitioning to life in LA, not retiring there.
  • Kawhi Leonard and Paul George—Los Angeles Clippers Technically, I call this 1B. Kawhi is the defending NBA MVP, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, 5-time All-Defensive Team, and—oh yeah, he averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists last year at the age of 27. Paul George is pretty much a lesser version of Kawhi with handles. 5-time All-NBA, 4-time All-Defense, the 29-year-old averaged 29 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists last year. Kawhi Leonard is as proven as it gets, minus a year off boycotting the San Antonio Spurs. But George has yet to prove himself as a lost star in Indiana, and as a Robin to Batman with Russell Westbrook in OKC.
  • Klay and Steph—Golden State Warriors Like Dan and Shay, these two don’t need last names to represent on this list. A combined six rings and 4,281 three-pointers made, Thompson and Curry look to come back healthy, with a wink towards KD, and prove they belong even higher.
  • Russell Westbrook and James Harden—Houston Rockets Together, these two individuals are going to be the most unstoppable offensive force the NBA has ever seen. Defensively, the duo will be the worst defensive backcourt the NBA has never seen. Generally, a terrific duo implies two people that work as a cohesive unit, complement each other, gel as one. With Westbrook and Harden, one ball isn’t going to be enough.
  • Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving—Brooklyn Nets These guys fall to five with KD’s injury, but KD is arguably the best player in the game, and Kyrie is Kyrie. If KD wouldn’t have hurt himself in the finals, this list could look dramatically different.
  • Damion Lillard and CJ McCollum—Portland Trailblazers These two spent six years in the backcourt together, averaged 20 points plus last year, and advanced to the NBA Conference finals. The product of big-time programs, Weber State and Lehigh? Looking at the list above, CJ may not be a superstar, but after Lillard’s playoff buzzer-beater over OKC and Paul George, Damon sure is.
  • Joel Embid and Ben Simmons—Philadelphia 76ers Apologies to Nikola Jokic, Embid is arguably the top center in the league. And little PG Ben Simmons….is 6’10 and can pass like Magic Johnson. If Embid can stay healthy and Simmons develop a jump shot? Seven is way too low.
  • Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray—Denver Nuggets Jokic was first-team All-NBA. That implies that he’s the best center in the NBA.  Jokic provides spacing with his mid-range game and finds targets with his pinpoint passing, while Murray has increased his scoring average every year, including almost 19 PPG in 2019.
  • Luka Doncic and Kristop Porzingas—Dallas Mavericks A little European flavor as the Rookie of the Year and the Unicorn team up in Dallas. Would have loved to add some Greek flavoring to this list, but Khris Middleton wasn’t quite enough to compliment Giannis Antetokounmpo.
  • Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson—Memphis Grizzlies Jaren Jackson Jr. is a 19-year-old that you’ve never heard of. Ja Morant is a 19-year-old you’ve maybe heard of. Believe me, they are really good, and they will be heard of.

Images via forbes.com, heatnation.com, clutchpoints.com, nbc.sports.com, yahoo!sports.com, nbc.boston.com

Alan Tapley The Athletic Supporter

Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship

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