More so than any other sport, the NBA is a league that's built around promoting and celebrating their individual superstars.
In football, faces are lost behind the helmets. You only see a baseball player when he's up to bat or records an out. But in basketball, you routinely see the faces and mannerisms of every player on the court.
The league has always used the face recognition tactic as a way to further popularize their star players, starting in the '60s with the Bill Russell/Wilt Chamberlain showdowns into the '80s with Bird & Magic to today's game with LeBron and Kobe.
But even though the league's focus often at times appears to be more on the individual than the team, no matter how great or transcending one player he is, he can't win a title by himself. The list of NBA champions in the last 50 years backs that up.
Bill Russell jumped onto a team with five Hall-of-Famers when he entered the league: Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, and Jim Loscutoff.
Bird had his share of Hall-of-Famers flanking him throughout the '80s: Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, and Bill Walton, to name a few.
Magic only played with the NBA's career leader in points (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), as well as James Worthy and Byron Scott.
Michael Jordan didn't start winning titles until Scottie Pippen matured.
Tim Duncan has always been surrounded with guys like Avery Johnson, David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
Kobe and Shaq needed each other to lead the early-2000 Lakers to dominance.
The point is that every elite player needs either another great player along side or a couple of really solid glue guys in order to compete for a championship. And more often that not, you can't just have two superstar guards, two forwards, or two centers—you need an inside-outside combination whose skill sets can complement one another.
There is no shortage of that 1-2 punch in the NBA this year, especially in the Western Conference where there is arguably the greatest amount of depth at the guard position since the '80s and bigs inside with a unique variety of low-post moves and mid-range game.
So what inside-outside combos will be the most effective heading into the 2010-11 season? Glad you asked. Let's do a rundown of the top 10 and see which ones will give opposing coaches nightmares when trying to game-plan a way to slow them down (and don't miss Mike B.'s list of 10 best duos in the East).