A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
BASN’s Favorite Combos
PHILADELPHIA — The 2007-08 NBA season provided one of the most entertaining — and closely contested — regular seasons in league history, particularly in the Western Conference where some winning teams were forced to watch the playoffs on the outside looking in.
Among these powerful team performances in each conference were statement-making personal performances, often times, from two teammates that each shared the same vision of leading their respective teams on to bigger and better things at some point.
Every NBA champion to ever hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy has had at least two all-star caliber players on its roster in order to win their respective NBA title and it has been proven time and time again that one single player, no matter how great, (think MJ pre-Scottie Pippen) can win an NBA championship alone.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 duos of the 2007-08 NBA season.
10. Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire
I know each of these guys is an all-star talent and top-five player at their respective positions, which is exactly why they are ranked so low on my list. Stoudemire and Nash, (along with that idiotic trade that brought the team Shaquille O’Neal) helped the team to underachieve immensely this season – and that was before getting blown off the court by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Point blank, this duo was arguably the league’s best trio with former all-star forward Shawn Marion on the roster.
9. Andre Iguoadala and Andre Miller
Speaking of players that helped their respective teams to exceed all expectations, Iguoadala and Miller combined to lead a resurgence in Philadelphia that hasn’t been seen since the start of the new millennium. After getting off to a dismal 18-30 start to the regular season, the Sixers switched GMs – and offensive philosophies – and literally took off, led by Miller and Philly’s new, ‘A.I’ Iguoadala.
8. Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu
Okay naysayers, I know Howard still can’t make a jump shot, but he is good for a near 20-20 whenever he’s not playing the Pistons, while Turkoglu finally fulfilled the promise he had shown glimpses of early in his career, averaging nearly 20 points per game this season while carrying the Magic on several occasions. Do each of these players have shortcoming? Certainly – but the pair combined to help the Magic exceed all expectations this season.
7. Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison
I know the Wizards are a group of collective, no-defense-playing head cases on most nights, but the majority of their ‘inferiority-complex’ problems are fostered by Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson, not Butler or Jamison. All I’ll say about this pair of all-star forwards is that Butler, known throughout NBA circles as ‘Tough Juice’ may be the toughest player in the league while Jamison is undoubtedly one of the classiest. Both guys probably deserve better than playing alongside Arenas and for a coach, (Eddie Jordan) who allows too many of his players to stay on the floor despite not playing one iota of actual defense.
6. Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton
Some say they’re ‘aging’ but I say these Billups and Hamilton still know how to get the job done unlike any backcourt pairing in the league for quite a number of years now. Billups has undoubtedly earned his nickname of ‘Mr. Big Shot’ while Hamilton is still the best shooter in the league coming off screens since Reggie Miller retired.
5. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum
Before anyone gets to thinking I’m some sort of Kobe worshipper, think again – I really don’t care for the guy much at all and certainly don’t think he’s role model material, (though I do respect his on-court abilities). However, Bryant and Bynum got the job done in amazing fashion in the season’s first half before Bynum went down with a knee injury and the Lakers made the trade that netted them all-star power forward/center Pau Gasol and he and Bryant picked up where the aforementioned pair left off.
4. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer
Williams, like Paul, is now entrenched as one of the top-five point guards in the entire NBA and has future greatness written all over him. Though Boozer had a sub par postseason following the 2007-08 regular season, he has been a consistent 20 and 10 player for the majority of his pro career. If Boozer can now, elevate his play to match Williams, particularly in the playoffs, the pair could eventually help the Jazz to accomplish a feat that Karl Malone and John Stockton never did.
3. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker
Say whatever you want about some of the league’s up-and -coming young guns, the San Antonio Spurs’ sure-fire Hall of Fame center and perennial all-star point guard, are among the top five players in the league at their respective positions – and in the case of Duncan – the very best. Sure they haven’t won back-to-back titles, but that’s about the only thing these two haven’t accomplished – yet.
2. Chris Paul and David West
Even at this early juncture of his young NBA career, it’s easy to see that Chris Paul is quickly heading toward the status of being mentioned in the same breath as some of the all-time great point guards to ever play the game – and rightfully so, I might add. However, it is all-star power forward David West that has kept Paul from becoming a solo act, with his outstanding, but still underrated play against the league’s best power forwards. For those who think this No. 2 ranking may be a bit too high, think again, this pair carried the Hornets all season long and will likely lead this franchise to even more success in the near future.
1. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
Let’s keep it real and call this pairing exactly what it is – an absolute stroke of genius that has worked out for the Lakers perfectly. Bryant is the unstoppable perimeter player who can do it all at both ends of the floor, while Gasol has given the Lakers some excellent interior scoring, rebounding and passing. Point blank, Bryant and Gasol have been the best duo in the league since Gasol joined the Lakers just prior to the regular season trade deadline.
Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming
McGrady and Yao were playing excellent basketball this season and had the look of a first round playoff winner at the very least – until Yao got hurt – again, pretty much killing the Rockets’ championship dreams. Still, I’m going to give this pair some props for their first half of the 2007-07 season.
Joe Johnson and Josh Smith
Johnson can almost literally shoot the lights out and Smith is the league’s most athletically gifted player, possessing a myriad set of offensive skills and defensive shot-blocking and rebounding. If Smith ever develops a consistent jump shot, he could become one of the most unstoppable players in the league. Still, this duo gets some major props for their 2007-08 season and will enter the 2008-09 season as one of the scariest teams in the Eastern Conference.
Tracy McGrady and Rafer Alston
No, people, I am not a Tracy McGrady worshipper either. I had to put T-Mc on this list once again because of his incredible play after Yao was lost for the season. McGrady turned back the clock and elevated his game while getting some often spectacular production from Alston, who had his best pro season yet. Alston’s contributions became so important for the Rockets down the stretch, that Houston looked like a totally different team when he missed a few games with his own injury just prior to the start of the playoffs.
Best Young Duo
Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge
Roy is already one of the best shooting guards in the league, while Aldridge has also blossomed into a consistent contributor that should begin to approach all-star status on an annual basis starting next season. Simply put, Roy and Aldridge look like the best young duo in the entire NBA.
Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki
I’ve been telling people for years that Nowitzki is not cut out for the ‘leader’ role that has been thrust upon him with the Mavericks and is clearly lacking in mental toughness while Howard regressed so badly in the postseason after another one of his inexplicable ‘I use marijuana’ speeches, that his confidence could be shaken to start the 2008-09 season – if he’s still with the Mavericks.
Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony
Yeah, both of these guys can score 30 points with their eyes closed, but neither one has ever stopped the guy they were guarding in either of their respective lifetimes and generally tend to act like defense is some sort of biological weapon that, when breathed in, causes instant mediocrity. Too bad neither of these guys realizes that defense wins championships in the NBA.
Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard
I’ll keep it real here and admit that this ‘duo’ never really materialized after the Magic grossly overpaid to acquire Lewis in free agency and watched him promptly become the team’s third best player behind Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. Funny how things turn out huh?
Next Season’s Surprising Duo
Mo Williams and Michael Redd
Something tells me that new head coach Scott Skiles is going to get both of these guys on the same page and performing at their very best while transforming the mentality of the perennially inept Milwaukee Bucks. Both Redd and Williams are legitimate scorers and Skiles could help each one – along with the rest of the fairly young Bucks, learn more about the mental aspects of the game than they’ve shown.
NEXT: We take at look at the best duos in NBA history.