Ranking the NBA Superstar Duos for the 2019-20 NBA Season

NBA Superstar Duos 2019-20 season

The NBA Superteam Era is dead. Kawhi Leonard made sure of this when he dismantled the Golden State Warriors and rejected Lebron James’ attempts to lure him to the Los Angeles Lakers. The landscape has shifted to “Super Duos,” with players now desiring to team up with friends or individuals who complement their skills and can share superstar duties. Here’s a look at the NBA’s best “Superstar Duos” heading into the 2019-20 NBA Season:

Tier 3 – The “Up and Comers” NBA Player Duos

12. Devin Booker / Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)

In their first season together, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton led the Phoenix Suns to 19 wins. The Los Angeles Lakers went 31-19 when Kobe joined Shaq in the starting lineup during the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season. Though Booker and Ayton aren’t quite “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” status, both are extremely talented individuals who should create a formidable inside-outside combination for years to come. With a full year under their belt and improvement at the head coaching position, the 2019-20 NBA Season should bring improved chemistry and many more wins.

11. Luka Doncic / Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks NBA Superstar Duos
Luka Doncic
Credit: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis haven’t played a single game together but are already expected to form the best pick and pop tandem in the league. Porzingis has spent the entirety of his Dallas Mavericks’ career admiring the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, but the “Unicorn” will need to make an immediate impression if the Mavericks hope to make an impact in the Western Conference. This duo’s success depends on how well Porzingis recovers from a torn ACL that will have sidelined him for close to 20 months once the 2019 NBA Season begins. Charles Barkley expects this pair to turn into the greatest “one-two punch… for the next 10 years.ā€

Tier 2 – The “Star” NBA Duos

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo / Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)

Despite being selected to the 2019 Eastern Conference All-Star team, many still aren’t sold on Khris Middleton as a max player. This pair’s position is propped by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supernova athletic ability. But Middleton’s capability as a three-point shooter (career 39%) carries great value when paired with Antetokounmpo’s slashing playmaking. Middleton contributes in a number of ways and is the perfect teammate for Antetokounmpo’s needs.

9. Donovan Mitchell / Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)

Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. are no “Stockton and Malone,” but the two have the opportunity to create their own legacy as the next great Utah Jazz duo. Conley’s experience with the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies will be vital in helping Donovan Mitchell take the next leap in a competitive Western Conference.

8. Damian Lillard / CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)

The 2019-20 NBA Season may be the last time we see this version of the Portland Trail Blazers. Though they reached the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors made quick work of the Blazers in 4 games. Damian Lillard recently signed a 4 year / $191 Million supermax extension and CJ McCollum is entering the penultimate season of his rookie extension. If this duo is unable to take another step in a much more open NBA landscape, 2019-20 may be the last season they share duties in the Blazers backcourt.

7. Nikola Jokic / Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)

Nikola Jokic is a perennial MVP candidate and Jamal Murray has shown consistent improvement throughout his first three years in the league. Denver Nuggets’ Coach Mike Malone has described this twosome’s chemistry as “almost romantic” in describing the ways this pairing plays off each other in their uniquely styled offense. The top pairing under-25, this dynamic duo has the potential to keep the Denver Nuggets atop the Western Conference for years to come.

6. Joel Embiid / Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

This is the rare combination in which the big man has the better outside game that his perimeter counterpart. In order for this duo to take the next step into the tier below, Ben Simmons will need to make a significant improvement to (or at least develop) his jump shot to help create spacing for Joel Embiid down low. The 76ers are primed to be the best team in the Eastern Conference for years to come, but such success hinges on how Embiid and Simmons are able to harmonize on the hardwood.

Tier 1 – The “Elite” NBA Superstar Duos

5. James Harden / Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)

News of this trade sent social media in a whirlwind, with many asking the same question: is one ball enough? A lot has changed since James Harden and Russell Westbrook played together in Oklahoma City; Harden has blossomed from a mini-bearded Sixth Man of The Year, while Westbrook has grown accustomed to leading-man duties. But you don’t pass up on pairing two MVPs in their prime. While this fit may be questionable, the sheer talent of this NBA superstar duo alone is worth the gamble.

4. Kevin Durant / Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving NBA Superstar Duos

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had been plotting to team up since 2018. Unfortunately, they may have to wait to see their dream come to fruition while Kevin Durant rehabs from a torn Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Durant and Irving have reached the pinnacle of success while playing roles in other legendary duos. With the Brooklyn Nets now the forefront of New York basketball, this duo will have the chance to cement their place in basketball lore by bringing an NBA Championship to the Big Apple.

3. Steph Curry / Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

The 2019-20 NBA Season will be a gap year for the “Splash Brothers.” With Klay Thompson recovering from a torn ACL that should sideline him for the majority of the season, Steph Curry will be left to man the ship with his temporary replacement, D’Angelo Russell. Despite Thompson’s injury, this duo’s success should place them above every other combination on this list; however, the moves that took place this offseason have this Warriors’ combo embracing their newfound underdog role.

2. Lebron James / Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

1. Kawhi Leonard / Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)

NBA Best players Lakers and Clipper
Credit: Clutchpoints Podcast

The Los Angeles “Superstar Duos” is the result of blockbuster moves each team made this offseason. The Lakers paired two top-five players by acquiring Anthony Davis to team up with Lebron James. But the Clippers’ one-upped their in-town rival by signing two-time NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has staked his claim as the best player in the league. And with his recruitment of Paul George, Leonard paired himself with an elite superstar who has no problem taking control of both ends of the floor. All roads now run through the Staples Center and the battle for Los Angeles is to sure to result in many “epic” matchups between these two for years to come.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

Let’s Face The Facts: NBA Superstars Are Underpaid

NBA Superstars Underpaid with the salary cap

Though the above is a live look of the New Orleans Pelicans ticket staffers learning their team won the 2019 NBA Draft lottery and right to draft Zion Williamson, it’s safe to say the Brooklyn Nets sales team experienced this same joy at the start of NBA Free Agency. The signing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signifies a coming of age story for the Nets and the end of an era for their crosstown rival. Once heralded as the “Mecca” of basketball, the aura that surrounded Madison Square Garden is gone. New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan was reportedly hesitant to sign Kevin Durant to a maximum deal. But if your team’s president has to release a statement responding to angry fans, that’s clearly not the correct business decision.

NBA Star Market Value

NBA Superstars Drive Revenue

People pay to see stars, and teams know it. Immediately after signing the two-all stars, an all-out race for Nets season tickets ensued. Currently, the cheapest ticket available is $4,000 a seat, which is quite an expense for a team that won a total of 48 games prior to the 2018-2019 NBA Season.

NBA stars do more than put fans in the seats; they serve as an economic catalyst for all other aspects of their team’s city. When Lebron James announced his “Decision” in 2010, not only did he take his talents to South Beach, but also $48 million in annual revenue. When James re-signed with Cleveland in 2014, Professor Leroy Brooks estimated his return added nearly $500 million to the local economy. The Cavaliers suffered another negative swing when Lebron moved west to the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA teams lack profitability and marketability without a star player. Fans routinely discuss how players aren’t worth a certain contract. When Kobe Bryant became the league’s highest-paid player in 2014, he did so to show players should not feel forced to take less than their worth and stated:

“Athletes are the ones that are in the public eye the most. And so their salaries are constantly talked about, so it’s very easy to look at the athlete and say, ‘You should be doing more and you should be taking less,’ when the reality is that your market value is so much higher than what people understand.

” ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you still should be taking less to win. Why do we have to do that? Because the owners locked us out and imposed a hard cap where we ‘have to’ take less in order for them to generate more revenue. Right? But meanwhile, they go and sign a TV deal that’s a billion dollars up from the last one, but that doesn’t get talked about. Nobody complains about that.”

Credit: CBS Sports

Maximum Value Under The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Credit: Larry Coon / CBA FAQ

Maximum salaries are the product of the 1998-1999 NBA lockout initiated by owners who feared player salaries were getting out of control. After the Minnesota Timberwolves gave 21-year old Kevin Garnett an extension worth six years, $126 million, billionaire owners decided they couldn’t “have the inmates running the prison.”

Now, maximum salaries are dependent on the player’s years of services. In a truly open market, superstar players such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Stephy Curry, Joel Embiid, and Anthony Davis would be worth at least $75 Million. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and Nikola Jokic would easily pull in contracts worth $50 million to $60 million per year. Hell, Zion Williamson is on the verge of signing a $100 million shoe deal; it makes no sense that his perceived NBA value is $45 million over four years.

Despite the league’s continued growth, it’s unlikely that the cap will rise to a level that will allow players to receive their true worth. While it may be hard to quantify the value a superstar brings, one method would be to allow teams the ability to sign a player outside of cap space. Instead of retiring jerseys, if owners truly want to show their appreciation, this is the route they should take. Then, the future Lebrons, Durants, and Antetokounmpos would be able to live in the world Kobe hoped to create for his fellow stars.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

HTH: James Harden Fan Shame, Durant Won’t Leave Golden State, Transfer Portal

Hot Takes house James Harden fans Kevin Durant GSW NCAA Transfer Portal

The Hot Takes House is on the open for business. It is a compilation of scorching hot opinions that won’t turn into Freezing Cold Takes material. In this edition: James Harden fans are shameless people with character flaws, Kevin Durant would be crazy to leave the Warriors, and the NCAA transfer portal is getting ridiculous. Do not read any further if you are easily triggered. Read. Share. Leave a Comment.

James Harden Fans Have No Shame

I’m not sure how James Harden fans are not embarrassed to call him their favorite basketball player. His ridiculous amount of flopping and his refusal to consistently give defensive effort are shameful. In general, fans like their athletes tough, rugged, and mentally tough. So, I do not understand why so many James Harden apologist exist.

It is so frustrating to try and watch an NBA Playoffs game, but have to suffer through Harden flailing around and faking hurt. By no means is Harden the only NBA player that flops. His serial abuse of flopping is just the most absurd in the league. Harden is strong and built like a tank compared to most players, but he flops whenever players get close to him. Could you imagine Jordan, Kobe, Bird, LeBron, Durant or any other champion doing this?

And then there is Harden’s negligence on defense. The Rockets will NEVER win an NBA championship until he changes his style of play. No team has ever won a championship when their best player gives poor effort on one side of the ball. The producers of ‘Shaqtin A Fool’ could make an entire show about Harden every season.

As a fan, how can you be proud of this? Maybe his fans are just the segment of the population that wants credit and praise for a job performed half right.

Two Reasons Kevin Durant Won’t Leave The Warriors

Assuming the money is right, Kevin Durant would be foolish to leave the Golden State Warriors. So many media and NBA analyst from Ric Bucher, to Chris Broussard have all but guaranteed Durant’s exit from Golden State. I believe that Kevin Durant is too smart to leave GSW.

Easy Basketball: 2019-20 Will be Durant’s 13th season

Players want to play fewer minutes and win more as they get older in the NBA. Durant has never had gotten easier shot attempts or had to carry less of the weight than he does with Curry, Thompson, and Green on the team. In his first nine seasons in Oklahoma City (Seattle), KD faced double teams, played a ton of minutes, worked extremely hard for shots, and only had one chance for a championship. In three seasons with the Warriors, he has a Finals MVP, two NBA Championships, and is making a run at a third. He plays fewer playoff minutes, averages more points, and shoots a higher % from 3, 2-pt, and free throws than OKC.

Durant’s Silicon Valley Investments

Durant has maximized his time in the Bay Area financially. He has started his own venture capital company which has partnered with some Silicon Valley heavyweights. His company reportedly has equity stakes in Rubrick, Acorn, Pieology, and Lime Scooters. Money does travel across state lines, but proximity and relationships matter in business. Warriors majority owner Joseph Lacob made his money in venture capital and mentors Durant in business.

I’m supposed to believe that Kevin Durant, who wants to score, win, and make money will let a couple beefs with Draymond make his life harder? Nah. I don’t buy it.

NCAA Transfer Portal is Getting Out of Control

We have covered the NCAA and its hypocritical and unfair practices extensively on Unafraid Show. I believe the players should have the right to transfer more freely and unencumbered like coaches. However, a lot of these kids are getting bad advice from their inner circles. These kids are transferring at the first sign of adversity. Right now there are nearly 1,000 players who have entered their names in the college football transfer portal. If a player enters his name in the portal, it doesn’t mean a player will transfer, schools can pull the players’ scholarship.

It is nice to say “I played as a true freshman”, but sometimes that adversity that you face by redshirting is the best thing for your growth. These young players need to understand that the push you need to achieve your dreams is often found in the struggle to get there.

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