It’s an almost impossible task for one man to carry a NBA team. We are seeing more and more players with unique skill-sets flock into the league each year, which is why some superstars are pairing up with one another. Over time, many superstar combos seamlessly gelled together.
Today, we are ranking the 25 best duos in NBA history. This won’t be just about who won the most titles together or who scored the most or who dominated statistically. Basketball is an art form, and two talented teammates that fit perfectly together can make a masterpiece. Which duos complemented each other, never taking, only adding to the buffet? That’s what we had to ask ourselves while writing this.
From dynasty duos to duos that never met the anticipation surrounding them, here’s where they fall in the top 25.
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25. ALONZO MOURNING and LARRY JOHNSON (1992-1995)
For three years, one of the most bolstering and youngest frontcourts belonged to the Charlotte Hornets. Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson were simply too much power for opposing teams to handle. Both ‘Zo and Johnson were 20 and 10 players their first season together, and even though the young tandem finished under .500, they were able to make it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against New York.
Even though the two never seemed to really get along, ever, their talent together went unquestioned, and if their chemistry remained in balance, there’s no telling how much more we could have seen out of the two.
24. KEVIN DURANT and RUSSELL WESTBROOK (2008-PRESENT)
With both players only 24 years old, the sky is the limit for the young Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Already one of the best scoring pairs in the NBA, together they make one of the best one-two punches in the league.
Of their five seasons together, both have averaged over 20 points per game in three of those seasons. Combined, they have scored a total of 20,090 points throughout 706 games together. This is only the beginning for these two as both are in the midst of maximum contracts. Despite getting to the Finals only one time, they still have a great deal of time to get there again, as both KD and Westbrook have yet to even enter their primes.
23. CHARLES BARKLEY and KEVIN JOHNSON (1992-1996)
Charles Barkley was a ruthless and wild power forward. Kevin Johnson was a quick, athletic slashing point guard. The two were the perfect one-two combo that worked in Phoenix for four years. There was no time wasted in Barkley’s journey for a championship, going directly to work his first year with his quick crafty point guard, going to the NBA Finals their first season together, but falling to the Chicago Bulls as many teams did in the ’90s.
Both players were able to get it done on each end of the floor, and were tough as nails. Johnson was able to put pressure on opposing teams, which helped Barkley create for himself. Over four seasons, Barkley and Johnson held a regular season record of 204-124 and one Finals appearance.
22. ALONZO MOURNING and TIM HARDAWAY (1995-2001)
Coming together in 1996, expectations were high for Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. Unfortunately, the two constantly fell short of even reaching the Finals, losing to the Knicks and Bulls year in and year out.
Mourning, a seven-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, complemented the offensive-minded Hardaway with his aggressive defense and shotblocking prowess. Hardaway was a five-time All-Star and possessed a killer crossover that devastated opponents, while Mourning locked down the interior, and is still the all-time leader in blocks for the Miami Heat with 1625 swats.
21. KOBE BRYANT and PAU GASOL (2007-PRESENT)
This tandem was a fixture at the top of the Western Conference for a half decade, making three trips to the NBA Finals and winning two championships during their seven years together. Despite only playing 27 games their first season together, Gasol was able to manage his health for a full playoff run to help get the Lakers to the Finals.
After that year, Bryant and Gasol looked to be an unstoppable force, winning back-to-back championships while Kobe made himself a staple in points per game, finishing in the top five every year. Without the drama of Dwight Howard this year, a healthy Bryant and Gasol could see a reemergence as a force in the Western Conference.