NBA's Greatest Dynamic Duos in the Last Decade
In 1998, the Chicago Bulls won their sixth and last championship by beating the Utah Jazz 4-2.
That ended a dynastic reign of six championships in eight years, led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, who established themselves as arguably the best dynamic duo in NBA history.
Before that year, some of the NBA’s Greatest Dynamic Duos included Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale John Stockton and Karl Malone, and Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars.
Some of today’s best duos include Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and newly created Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Who have been among the best dynamic duos in the last decade?
Here’s the Top 10:
10. Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics)
Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker teamed up to be one of the premier NBA duos in the Eastern Conference.
Pierce was one of the best scoring small forwards and Antoine Walker was a versatile power forward.
Both players consistently averaged at least 20 ppg and carried the Celtics to the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Nets.
The series was best remembered when the Celtics came back from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit and won Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead over the Nets. The Celtics would eventually lose the series, and the duo’s success would be short-lived.
9. Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace (Detroit Pistons)
“Big Ben” and “Sheed” teamed up in 2004 to form the duo “Wallace x2.”
Rasheed, who was traded from the Portland Trail Blazers and Atlanta Hawks, was the missing piece that allowed the Pistons win the championship in 2004 and reach the finals in 2005.
Big Ben was Detroit’s defensive specialist and Sheed added an interior presence on offense.
More importantly the Wallaces formed a dominant defensive duo which completely clogged driving lanes and helped anchor the Pistons to become an elite defensive team. Although the Pistons are still a great defensive team without Big Ben, they have looked vulnerable in the postseason.
8. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson (Denver Nuggets)
Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony are two of the most talented offensive players that can wreck havoc against any team. The explosive duo is averaging nearly 53 combined ppg this season, which is nearly half of the team’s scoring output. It’s hard enough for teams to stop one player, so it’s nearly impossible to guard both players on the floor. However the two stars struggled against the San Antonio Spurs in last year’s playoffs, and this season isn’t easier. Currently Denver is ninth in the standings, so it’ll remain to be seen if the Nugget’s dynamic duo can carry their team to make a playoff run.
7. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have dominated opposing teams and have vaulted the Los Angeles Lakers to the top of the Western Conference. This newly formed duo is only 12 games old, but the Los Angeles Lakers are 11-1 in that span.
Gasol fits perfectly in Phil Jackson’s “Triangle Offense” and Kobe’s offensive skills allow him to break down opposing defenses and find Gasol for open shots.
Kobe and Gasol combine for 50 ppg, and Gasol is hitting an astonishing 63% of his FG attempts.
The Lakers look primed for a championship run and will look even scarier when they have a healthy Andrew Bynum.
The only reason I didn’t put Kobe and Gasol higher on the list is because they have been together for only 12 games, but they will easily rise in the ranks for over time.
6. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming (Houston Rockets)
The Houston Rockets are one of the best teams in the Western Conference when Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming are both players are healthy at the same time.
Both players complement each other similar to Bryant and Gasol; Yao’s interior presence and McGrady’s perimeter skills make it difficult for opposing teams to put single coverage on both players.
The Rocket’s 1-2 punch also opens the offense for other players on the floor.
The problem, however, is that one player or the other is always injured.
The sixth place Rockets have lost Yao for the rest of the season, ending high hopes for a deep playoff run. Prior to Yao’s injury, the Rockets ran off 12 straight wins and looked poised to advance in the standings.
5. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz)
Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are quickly being compared to John Stockton and Karl Malone.
After the Utah Jazz made it to the Western Conference Finals last postseason, the duo has carried the Jazz to a 37-21 record and look ready to for another strong playoff run.
Williams is a quick and very strong point guard while Boozer provides excellent interior presence.
The duo helps anchor a very balanced team that has the best record in the last two months, vaulting them atop the Northwest Division.
Williams and Boozer are both still very young, so expect them to keep the Jazz among the elite teams in the west for many years to come.
4. Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
To win a championship, Miami needed a pair of superheroes to carry them. “Superman” and “Flash” were more than ready to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy home.
Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade immediately helped the Miami Heat ascend to the top of the NBA.
In Shaq’s first season with the Heat, Wade and he led the team to a 59-23 record and narrowly beat the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Heat struggled at times in the 2004-05 regular season, but Shaq and Wade ultimately helped carry their team in the playoffs and give the Heat their first championship in franchise history.
Although both players parted ways, their accomplishments established them as one of the best duos in the last decade.
3. Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton (Detroit Pistons)
Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton are arguably the best backcourt duo in the last decade.
They have often drawn comparisons to a pair of Detroit Pistons legends, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars.
Billups and Hamilton are often underrated, but the pair’s credentials show why they deserve to be among the NBA’s elite duos.
Since 2002, they have accumulated a record of 317-151, won two consecutive Eastern Conference Championships and appeared in the conference finals four consecutive years, and secured an NBA Championship in 2004.
Billups and Hamilton have consistently put up very strong numbers and are excellent perimeter defenders.
This season, the Pistons have the second best record at 42-16 in the East and are aggressively seeking to make it back to the Finals.
2. Tim Duncan and David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)
The “Twin Towers” have a few things in common: both are about seven feet tall, were rebounding champions, named on All-NBA teams, have season MVPs, have NBA Championships, and are future Hall of Fame players.
Tim Duncan was the first overall pick in the 1997 draft when the Spurs were an NBA worst 20-62.
In the 1997-98 season, rookie Tim Duncan and David Robinson helped the team achieve the largest single season turnaround by finishing 56-26.
Duncan and Robinson were known for their excellent defense around the rim, making opponents settle for lower percentage shots.
The duo helped the San Antonio Spurs become a dominant defensive team which carried them to a pair of championship in 1999 and 2003.
For several seasons, the duo averaged 40 ppg, 20 rpg, and four to five bpg, which made Duncan and Robinson dangerous on both ends of the floor.
But even the Twin Towers were knocked down by the Number 1 duo.
1. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are easily the most dominant duo in the last decade by establishing the Los Angeles Lakers as one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.
Shaq and Kobe were simply unstoppable from 1999 to 2002 and helped the Lakers become only the fourth team in NBA history to three-peat.
During the 1999-2000 NBA season, Shaq and Kobe led to Lakers to a 67-15 regular season record. Although they were almost eliminated in the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers, Shaq and Kobe ultimately overcame all obstacles en route to their first championship.
During the 2000-01 playoffs, the Lakers destroyed their opponents by going an NBA history best 15-1 postseason record for their second championship.
In the 2001-02 postseason, the Shaq and Kobe fended off their archrival, the Sacramento Kings, in one of the greatest playoff series in recent history, and easily sweeping the New Jersey Nets for their third championship.
Despite the constant feuds among the two stars, they were able to put their differences aside for those three remarkable seasons, and established themselves has the best dynamic duo in the last decade.
Note: This excludes players from this list that will be categorized and mentioned in my next article, the NBA’s Greatest Trios in the last decade. Stay tuned.
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