NBA Power Rankings: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the 10 Best Scoring Duos
This season it appears that high-scoring duos have taken the league by storm. In fact, half of the teams on this list feature tandems that were created over the summer.
Are we complaining about it? Absolutely not.
Who could complain about watching Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol bring Hollywood to its feet at the Staples Center?
Or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make a city like Oklahoma City relevant for something other than tornadoes?
Or what about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade work their magic in South Beach?
No matter what team you support, you sometimes have to be in awe of what these duos exhibit nightly.
However, we also need to know that it's not duos or individuals who win championships, it's team efforts.
The San Antonio Spurs might not be the most exciting team to watch, but I can guarantee that they'd rather bore their crowd to sleep with a 42-8 record rather than get them off their feet with a 28-22 record.
The team effort is the reason teams such as the Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons ran the 2000s.
For now, though, we look to the dynamic duos and the terrifying twosomes that electrify arenas; the two players that can turn around games just with their offensive prowess.
Whether their specialty is shooting, driving or a hybrid of both, the players in this power rankings are some gentlemen you would not like to see when looking at the opposing teams' bench.
The biggest problem when facing two dynamic scorers on the same team is which player to focus on more. You can only double-team so many times before either player learns to overcome it.
Scoring isn't everything in the NBA, but this article is all about it. Only 20 of the league's premier scorers could make it and they all carry a great significance as they exhibit themselves as the scoring leaders to look to when adversity strikes on the offensive end.
Defense might win championships, but scoring is what keeps the viewers watching and a few cities relevant.
It's why Golden State remains in the news even though they've only made one postseason over the past decade.
10. Kevin Love and Michael Beasley
Kevin Love: 21.3 ppg
Michael Beasley: 20 ppg
Combined Points per game: 41.3
The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't accustomed to cracking top 10s unless they're dealing with a top 10 worst (insert accolade here).
But thanks to the efforts of their workhorse Kevin Love and their most significant offseason pickup in Michael Beasley, they actually see some recognition as having one of the top scoring duos in the league.
In fact, they are only one of four teams in the league to have two players averaging at least 20 points per game.
The statistics are completely new to each player, with each dropping no more 14 points per contest prior to this season. Love gets most of his recognition from his astounding rebounding—he leads the league with nearly 16 per game—but he has actually evolved into a terrific scorer who can hit from just about everywhere on the court.
He is hitting at least one three-pointer per game on a career high 43 percent from beyond the arc. His five offensive rebounds per contest are a huge help to him and the team as he finds himself scoring plenty of easy put-backs.
Michael Beasley is adjusting to the role as primary player. His time with the Miami Heat was mostly overshadowed by Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem taking minutes from him late in games.
But he has stepped up on many occasions in the waning minutes of games and has greatly improved his all-around work ethic as an offensive player.
He has improved his jump shot, gets to the foul line more often and even makes an effort to get to the rim.
The 11-39 record doesn't exactly reflect the work these two put in on a near-nightly basis. Perhaps if some changes at the top are made and some quality role players are brought in, then the efforts of Love and Beasley won't go to waste.
9. Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups
Carmelo Anthony: 24 ppg
Chauncey Billups: 16.5 ppg
Combined points per game: 40.5
With all the trade rumors and speculation surrounding the city of Denver, the NBA community might have forgotten that Carmelo Anthony is still one of the best scorers in the league, Chauncey Billups is one of the top point guards in recent history, and the Nuggets still aren't that half bad.
However, there is a significant problem with these numbers—they are extreme drop-offs from the offensive production that 'Melo and Billups posted last season. They posted up a combined 47.8 points per game compared to the 40.5 they are exhibiting this season.
Not to say that 40.5 points per game between two players isn't impressive, but we do see that Anthony and Billups are definitely capable of more and could be posting up nearly 10 more points per game.
Whether the trade talks surrounding Anthony and Billups are actually affecting their games is only known by the two Nugget stars and big guns upstairs. Nevertheless, the Nuggets are still 30-21 and second in a tough Northwest Division behind the efforts of these two and the role players that populate the roster.
If this article were posted last season, the Nuggets would find themselves in the top three of scoring duos; 'Melo was posting up his usual, modest 28 points per game and Chauncey was overachieving with a career-high 20 points per contest.
Nevertheless, it still always helps to have one of the purest scorers in the game playing alongside a premier three-point threat as well as one of the most clutch players in the league.
8. Kevin Martin and Luis Scola
Kevin Martin: 23.3 ppg
Luis Scola: 19.3 ppg
Combined points per game: 42.6
Thanks in part to the suddenly outstanding offensive production of Luis Scola, the duo of he and Kevin Martin find themselves as one of the more threatening scoring twosomes of the league.
Martin had already made a name for himself with the Sacramento Kings, when he became recognized as one of the league's elite pure scorers—as his three-point percentage and free throw attempts dictate—but it has been everyone's favorite Argentinean in Scola who has stepped up the most for his Houston Rockets.
Due to injuries to Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming, Scola was forced to step up as an offensive leader. He certainly showed during the past FIBA championships that he could be a terrific scorer and he has shown flashes of brilliance as an offensive threat.
The 19 points per game on 50 percent shooting is as productive and effective as you can expect Scola to be as he attempts to lead his depleted team to a low seed in the Western Conference postseason race.
Kevin Martin has been no slouch, either. He's posting up numbers that are near his last career season during the 2008-09 campaign. The 44 percent shooting is his highest percentage since the 2007-08 campaign.
It makes it all the more impressive that he's hitting over two three-point shots per game on a 41 percent clip.
The only disappointment from Martin is that his 88 percent free-throw shooting doesn't exactly match up with the 93 percent he was hitting in his short time with Houston last year.
I'm sure that Houston will survive with Martin's 88 percent from the line.
7. Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton
Amar'e Stoudemire: 26 ppg
Raymond Felton: 17.2 ppg
Combined points per game: 43.2
We knew Amar'e Stoudemire could score. The big question was could he score without Steve Nash.
Stoudemire came into the league right out of high school and was blessed with the gift of having Nash as the floor general of his team.
He'd only need two seasons before he'd eclipse the 20 point per game mark and would continue to score over 20 points per game, aside from the injury plagued 2005-06 campaign.
When he fled the dry heat of Phoenix for the glitz and glamor of New York, critics already questioned if Stoudemire could score just as much as he did with Felton taking the place of Nash.
Fifty games, 26 points per game and some serious MVP consideration later, and Stoudemire has clearly adjusted to his new home.
The issues of him co-existing with Felton have already been thrown out the window and the two lead the team in scoring combining to tally 43 points per contest.
It also greatly helps Amar'e to be in nearly the exact same situation in New York that he was in with Phoenix. His former ex-coach in Mike D'Antoni is once again leading Stat to another post season and the Knicks first in a decade.
Amar'e has been stealing the thunder away from former Charlotte Bobcat point guard Raymond Felton, who has also been exceeding expectations in his first season with the Knicks.
The 17 points and nine assists per game are career highs for the sixth-year guard as he looks to only making the second post season of his short career.
The only downside of Felton's season thus far has been his inability to take shots from within the arc. He's taking five three-pointers per game and hitting only 33 percent of them.
With a new lease on life thanks to their two newest acquisitions, the New York Knicks finally have postseason on the mind after an extremely long layoff.
6. Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer
Derrick Rose: 24.4 ppg
Carlos Boozer: 19.8 ppg
Combined points per game: 44.2
Game after game, the Chicago Bulls are making the one of the biggest statements of this past summer's offseason.
The 34-15 record, the 12-and-a-half-game Central Division lead, and the three-and-a-half game deficit from the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is proving to everybody that Derrick Rose didn't need Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh to be a successful team.
All he needed was a new coach, a few role players and their biggest splash of the summer in Carlos Boozer.
Even with Boozer missing a few weeks to start the season, Rose took over and led his injury-depleted team to the start they envisioned with Carlos in the starting lineup.
Derrick was phenomenal, to say the least, as he had six games of 30 or more points in the first month of the season.
In only his third year in the league, Rose is among the league leaders in scoring at a career-high 24 points per game to go along with the career-high eight assists he is tallying per contest as well.
The FIBA championships have molded him into an elite player as he develops a mid-range game and a three-point shot.
The big splash of the offseason in Boozer hasn't disappointed at all, even with the injury at the start of the season.
In only his fourth game with the Bulls he racked up 29 points and 12 rebounds, it was only two nights prior that he netted 25 and nine.
Since his return, Carlos has become one of the Eastern Conference's most volatile power forwards. In a conference that consists of Bosh, Kevin Garnett and Amar'e Stoudemire, Boozer is quietly making a name for himself in the Windy City as he and Rose aim to bring the trophy that no Bull has held in over a decade.
5. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry
Monta Ellis: 25.3 ppg
Stephen Curry: 19.2 ppg
Combined points per game: 44.5
It was a given that a few Golden State Warriors would make this list.
The team has too many players that have a scoring mentality not to.
Even when Dorell Wright and David Lee jumped into the fire known as Oakland, there would have to be a few scorers that would score at a more consistent clip than any other player.
The Warriors are only scoring 103 points per game; it's nothing compared to the 110 averaged under Don Nelson, with nearly half of those points coming from the combined efforts of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
The team has definitely improved from seasons past with a 22-27 record and Monta and Stephen have clearly exhibited that they are the future of Warriors basketball. Each player is under 25 years old, with a combined eight years of NBA experience under their belts.
Ellis is once again proving that he is one of the league's top pure scorers as he averages a near career-best 25.3 points per game. Curry is still continuing to prove doubters wrong as he averages 19 points in only his second year in the league. The 43 percent mark from beyond the arc speaks wonders of just how well the 22-year-old can shoot.
Both players have the ability to go off in the offensive system the Warriors run and they have done so many times in the past.
Sure, they still give up 106 points per game and they're far from making any post season this year, but they still have the players and the talent to mold Golden State into a playoff team that can actually cause some damage.
For now though, they'll score and we'll ooh and ahh at the shots that this dynamic backcourt can hit.
4. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
Kobe Bryant: 25.6 ppg
Pau Gasol: 18.8 ppg
Combined points per game: 44.4
A list based on scoring wouldn't exactly be complete if Kobe Bryant weren't included now, would it?
Even with the constant criticism that the back-to-back champions face daily. Even with talks of a trade that could send away Ron Artest. And even with critics claiming that Bryant is becoming more of a ball-hog than ever and how his health and age continue to deteriorate his game.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the Lakers organization are still 35-16 and are still the favorites to win this June's NBA championship.
The reason the Lakers are still considered favorites even with the "adversity" they face is that they still have the same dynamic duo that has led the team to two consecutive titles.
While Gasol remains consistent netting a modest 19 points per game, Bryant has actually seen his scoring drop off to its lowest since the 2003-04 campaign.
The 27 to 30 points per game might be a thing of the past now for Bryant—he can look to Gasol or Lamar Odom to take on some of the scoring load—but it's still well known by every player in the league that Kobe is still one of the most dangerous scorers in the association.
One of the better inside-outside duos of the league, Bryant and Gasol are still one of the biggest threats a team can face, especially in the postseason. While Pau's scoring isn't as dynamic and spectacular, Kobe can do the heavy lifting in scoring when he needs to.
Scoring has been Kobe's game since he came in the league and it would be blasphemy to leave a scorer of Bryant's caliber to not be included in this list.
3. Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin
Eric Gordon: 24.1 ppg
Blake Griffin: 22.9 ppg
Combined points per game: 47
Barely four years of experience between them, yet Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin are taking the NBA world by storm with little resistance.
The Los Angeles Clippers are only 19-31 and have a countless internal and external problems, but when you watch Blake Griffin work his magic and Eric Gordon hit his shots, you tend to forget that the Clippers have been recognized as one of sports saddest cases of a franchise.
Even with quality role players such as Baron Davis and Chris Kaman on the team, it's tough to argue against Griffin being the reason for this turn around.
How else can you explain why Gordon is currently averaging seven more points than he did last season? Eric has taken to the role of primary scorer, thanks in part to the injury Kaman suffered at the beginning of the season.
Davis is actually giving up the ball to open players rather than just throwing up prayers, and he has greatly adjusted to his new position on the team as he posts career highs in points, field goal percentage, three-pointers, free-throw attempts, rebounds and assists.
Eric Gordon has been the scoring leader of this team and yet no one has seemed to notice the dramatic improvement that he has had over the past few months.
Why hasn't anybody noticed? Because they have a guy who does this.
2. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant: 29 ppg
Russell Westbrook: 22.5 ppg
Combined points per game: 51.5
Tied for the highest scoring duo in the league, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have not only made a name for themselves, but for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As the reigning scoring champion, nobody should be surprised that Kevin Durant leads the league at 29 points a contest. Instead, we have become surprised of just how dynamic and entertaining of a player Russell Westbrook has become in the three years that he has played organized basketball.
How exactly does a player who averaged 16 points last season turn into one of the league's top point guards?
The eight free throws he is taking compared to the five last season could certainly be a reason for the sudden offensive burst.
It could be the career high 44 percent shooting or the decline in three-point attempts, but it is certain that Westbrook has evolved into one of the most threatening and volatile players in the league.
Maybe being around Kevin Durant doing all that scoring has rubbed off on his game.
Over the past one-and-a-half seasons, Durantula has become the league's No. 1 pure scorer. He, amongst many other young players, saw his talent level rise since the FIBA championships.
Durant has taken to the role of leader quite well this season as he attempts to lead his Thunder to their second consecutive postseason appearance.
This time around, though, an eighth seed will be a disappointment. Considering they are 33-17 and first in the division, I doubt they'll have any problem with securing a higher seed.
1. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
LeBron James: 26.1 ppg
Dwyane Wade: 25.4 ppg
Combined points per game: 51.5
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James might be tied with Durant and Westbrook for most points scored by a duo, but they are the clear No. 1 because of just how prolific of scorers they can be.
Not taking anything away from Durant or Westbrook and their abilities, but it's that Wade and James have the ability to go off on any night and lead their team to victories that should have been out of reach.
Not to mention they are the only tandem in the league to average at least 25 points per game.
The idea of these two superstars having problems co-existing has become a thing of the past as Wade and James put on shows for sell-out crowds.
Whether it's in Miami or in any of the other 29 NBA cities, LeBron and Dwyane have not disappointed their fans and critics alike.
They have begun to learn to thrive on each other rather than themselves as they look towards competent teammates to make shots rather than playing the role of hero in the waning minutes of games.
Each player's scoring production has decreased as expected, but it hardly matters when the team is racking up wins at an absurd rate.
They are two of the most dangerous players in the game and are learning how to score in more ways than one. The biggest benefit of having each other on the same team is that they can rely on each other for ways to score and win games.
No matter what kind of defense is thrown at either of them, it will either be Dwyane's explosive first step, LeBron's improved jump shot and strength, or an open, reliable teammate that either player can rely on.