Al Horford and Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
An unheralded, largely unproven pairing that played well in a very small sample last season, Al Horford and Paul Millsap simply don't have the reps to crack the top 10. They shared the floor for just 28 games and a total of 675 minutes in 2013-14 but managed to produce a net rating of plus-3.7 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com, and a combined player efficiency rating of 41.8, per Basketball-Reference, which will top a handful of duos we'll get to shortly.
Horford and Millsap will get a chance to spread their quiet productivity over a larger swath of the season this year. Don't be surprised if they outshine a number of better-known duos.
Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns
It's tough to find a more exciting tandem than Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, but the hidden truth about these two is that theirs is not a two-way relationship. Bledsoe falls apart without his Slovenian backcourt mate, per Grantland's Zach Lowe:
The Suns scored 108.4 points per 100 possessions when Dragic and Bledsoe played together, and just 100.7 when Dragic sat — a mark that would have ranked 25th among 30 teams over the full season. The team’s overall turnover rate spiked, and Bledsoe made more mistakes when he had to work as the lead ball handler.
Until Bledsoe proves he can handle things without a safety net, the Suns duo isn't quite ready for prime time.
John Wall and Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
We've spent a lot of time on the numbers in this section so far, which is a good indication of how critical they are to judging the NBA's top pairings. It should come as no surprise, then, that John Wall and Bradley Beal don't quite measure up to their top-10 peers...yet.
Beal posted a PER of 14.3 last year—a below-average figure. So while he combines with Wall to satisfy the "it" factor and "cool" quotient of these rankings, the statistical production just isn't there.
Paul George and Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
Don't look at the numbers from the second half of last year; they're ugly, and they don't justify Paul George and Roy Hibbert earning an honorable mention here. Instead, consider the way the Indiana Pacers' two best players (again, until the second half of last year) anchored the league's top defense and took the team to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals.
George is a borderline superstar with room to grow, and Hibbert isn't so far removed from being one of the league's two or three most impactful defenders. If Indy can move past the collective malaise that sapped its mojo last year, these two will return to their previous potency.