Basketball is an exciting game, but nothing beats two equally exciting players playing on the same team together. There are more possibilities out there on the court, and in most cases, it makes both players better when they play with an equally talented player.
We've seen some great duos in the past 20 years, including David Robinson and Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, and not to mention, Shaquille O' Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Sometimes we see duos on the brink of greatness, just to abruptly break up. This article is dedicated to those duos who never quite played with each other for as long as most people would have hoped. Without further ado, here are the top 10 NBA duos we didn't get to see enough of over the last 20 years.
1 season (2003-2004)
LeBron James - 20.9 PPG (2004 Rookie of the Year)
Carlos Boozer - 15.5 PPG and 11.5 RPG
Is the country sick of LeBron James at this point?
Maybe, but if Carlos Boozer had just stayed in Cleveland, this whole “decision” thing may have never happened. We all know that most players would rather play in a beautiful city like Miami with players such as Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but if Boozer was still in Cleveland, it’s possible that LeBron would have never left.
It’s also not a stretch to say that James may have a ring right now if that was the case. The only time these two players were together was in James’ rookie season, when the duo still managed to combine for 36.4 PPG and 17 RPG in their lone season together.
1 season (2004-2005)
Steve Nash - 15.5 PPG and 11.5 APG (2005 MVP, 2005 All-NBA First Team, 2005 All-Star)
Joe Johnson - 17.1 PPG
2005 Pacific Division champions, Western Conference finalists
Joe Johnson was arguably one the NBA's most underrated players during his tenure in Phoenix. Johnson averaged over 16 PPG in his final two seasons, but was always overshadowed by the big three (Nash, Marion, Stoudemire).
Looking back and seeing how good Joe Johnson has turned out to be, a Nash and Johnson duo could have been a fantastic thing for the Suns. You could even make an argument for Johnson and Amare Stoudemire to be the duo here. But in the one year Nash and Johnson played together, things seemed to really click, and it’s obvious Nash appreciates having shooters around him.
1 season (1995-1996)
Larry Johnson - 20.5 PPG
Glen Rice - 21.6 PPG (1996 NBA All-Star)
The Hornets were just one of Glen Rice’s many stops in his well-traveled NBA career. Glen Rice did play with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Patrick Ewing and Steve Francis through the course of his career, but the duo he formed with Larry Johnson was one he had with no other.
These two did play together for just one season, but both players registered 20-plus PPG seasons. After losing Alonzo Mourning, Charlotte could have used a Rice and Johnson duo for just a little longer. This duo did reunite in New York, the final season for Larry Johnson, but let's just pretend that never happened.
3 seasons (1993-1996)
Shaquille O'Neal - 29.3 PPG and 13.2 RPG in 1993-1994 (1994-1996 All-Star, 1994 and 1996 All-NBA Third Team, 1995 NBA scoring champion, 1995 All-NBA Second Team)
Penny Hardaway - (1994 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 1994 NBA Rookie Game MVP, 1995-1996 All-Star, 1995-1996 All-NBA First Team)
This was a young Shaquille O’Neal playing with Penny in Orlando. They were the most exciting young duo in the early 1990s, forming when Penny joined the Magic just one year after Orlando made Shaquille O’Neal the top pick in the 1992 NBA draft.
Shaq and Penny were exciting together, making each other’s jump into the league easier. In fact, the only two seasons Penny ever made the All-NBA team were with Shaq. Shaq and Penny could have been a great duo for many years, but then of course, nobody would have seen Shaq and Kobe, so choose wisely.
8 seasons (1996-2004)
Shaquille O'Neal - 29.7 PPG and 13.7 RPG in 1999-2000 (1997-1998, 2000-2004 All-Star, 1997 All-NBA Third Team, 1999 All-NBA Second Team, 2000-2001, 2003 All-Defensive Second Team, 2000 and 2004 NBA All-Star Game MVP, 1998, 2000-2004 All-NBA First Team, 2000 NBA MVP, 2000-2002 NBA Finals MVP)
Kobe Bryant - 30 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.9 APG in 2002-2003 (1997 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, 1998, 2000-2004 NBA All-Star, 1999 All-NBA Third Team, 2000 and 2001 All-NBA Second Team, 2002 NBA All-Star Game MVP, 2002-2004 All-NBA First Team, 2000, 2003-2004 All-Defensive First Team, 2001-2002 All-Defensive Second Team)
2000-2002 NBA champions and 2004 Western Conference champions
About half the people out there would argue that Shaq and Kobe don’t deserve to be on this list. They did play together for eight seasons.
In their eight years these two superstars were teammates, they both appeared on the same All-Star roster six times, and the same All-NBA First Team three separate times. The fact of the matter is, the nation just couldn’t get enough of Shaq and Kobe. Whether it was because of the constant feuding in their later years together, or the play on the court, it’s safe to say that we really didn’t see enough of Shaq and Kobe.
3 seasons (1997-2000)
Grant Hill - 25.8 PPG in 1999-2000 (1998, 2000 NBA All-Star, 1998-2000 All-NBA Second Team)
Jerry Stackhouse - 23.6 PPG in 1999-2000 (2000 NBA All-Star)
1999 and 2000 playoffs
By the time Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse reached their third season together, they became one of top scoring duos in the past 20 years. Both players were All-Stars in Hill’s final season in Detroit.
Who would have thought that a Dukie and a Tar Heel would form one of the most potent duos, but these two shook off their college rivalry to become the great duo they were. Both players were in their prime as well, which made this duo so fun to watch, and many wished they would have played together longer.
1.5 seasons (2006-2008)
Carmelo Anthony - (2006-2007 All-NBA Third Team, 2007-2008 NBA All-Star)
Allen Iverson - 26.4 PPG and 7.1 APG in 2007-2008 (2006 All-NBA Third Team, 2006-2008 NBA All Star)
2007 and 2008 playoffs
Iverson never really played with anybody near his talent level before he got to Denver. He was always the best player in Philadelphia by far, never having much help around him.
It’s surprising this duo never made it out of the first round of the playoffs in their two postseason trips. Even though it was toward the end of his career, Iverson still had gas left in the tank and put up some gaudy numbers, even while playing alongside another star in Melo. It would have been a fun duo to see for more than the year and a half they were together.
3 seasons (2004-2008)
Jason Kidd - 14.4 PPG, 8.3 APG, 7.4 RPG in 2004-2005 (2006 All-Defensive First Team, 2005 and 2007 All-Defensive Second Team, 2004, 2007-2008 NBA All-Star)
Vince Carter - 25.2 PPG in 2006-2007 (2005-2007 NBA All-Star)
2005 Atlantic Division champions, 2004-2007 playoffs
We did get to see Kidd and Carter play together for parts of four seasons, but that still wasn’t enough. Kidd and Carter made the postseason every year they were together, but failed to ever make it out of the second round.
Kidd and Carter were one of those examples of a great wing playing with a great point guard. If the two would have stuck around longer in New Jersey together, it’s possible they would have gotten back to the NBA Finals, a place they were at just before Carter got to town.
2.5 seasons (1996-1999)
Stephon Marbury - 17.7 PPG and 8.6 APG in 1997-1998 (1997 NBA All-Rookie First Team)
Kevin Garnett - 18.5 PPG and 9.6 RPG in 1997-1998 (1997-1998 NBA All-Star)
1997 and 1998 playoffs
There’s just something intriguing about two young stars growing up on the same team together. One year after drafting Kevin Garnett out of high school, the Timberwolves made a draft day trade, swapping Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury with the Bucks. Marbury and Garnett made an instant connection with one another as two young kids having fun in the NBA.
Marbury saw his assist totals rise in all three seasons with Minnesota, thanks in large part to the help of Garnett. With Marbury’s assists on the rise, came the rise of Garnett’s point totals, as well.
In the three seasons the duo was together, they made the playoffs every year. If Marbury would have stayed in Minnesota longer, it’s possible that the Timberwolves would have gone deeper in the playoffs in later years, something they had a hard time doing with only Garnett.
2 seasons (1998-2000)
Tracy McGrady - 15.4 PPG in 1999-2000
Vince Carter - 25.7 PPG in 1999-2000 (1999 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2000 NBA All-Star, 2000 All-NBA Third Team)
At No. 1 on the list, we have a pair of cousins, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.
McGrady and Carter were back-to-back first-round selections for the Raptors (Carter was originally drafted by Golden State and traded immediately) in 1997, and then 1998. Vince Carter was more polished coming into the league than T-Mac was. T-Mac wasn’t near the player he was in Orlando and Houston when he was still in Toronto. That’s part of the tragedy in this.
McGrady left Toronto in the summer of 2000 after he couldn’t resist playing in front of family and friends in Orlando. Just imagine what could have been if McGrady and Carter grew up in the league together for a number of years.