Entering the 2019-20 season, there are quite a few NBA teams that have multiple stars on their roster. But which team has the best duo? How many elite tandems are there around the league?
To help us rank the Association’s top star pairings, we used NBA 2K20’s overall player ratings (all of which can be found here).
1. LeBron James (97) + Anthony Davis (94)
LeBron James will turn 35 years old in December, but the folks at NBA 2K20 clearly believe that he’ll continue to dominate. James is rated 97 overall, which is tied with Kawhi Leonard for highest in the game (and it’s one point higher than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and James Harden). It’s possible that Anthony Davis is the most talented player that James has ever played with, which is saying a lot considering LeBron’s teammates. Davis, who’s the NBA 2K20 cover athlete, has the seventh-best rating in the game and he’s the top-rated big man. The Lakers gave up quite the haul to land the 26-year-old, but that’s the price you pay for a player who can dominate inside and outside on both ends of the court. After James and Davis, the next-best Lakers in NBA 2K20 are DeMarcus Cousins (86, injured), Kyle Kuzma (84), JaVale McGee (79) and Danny Green (77). The Lakers have the second-best team rating in the game, with an average player rating of 78.27 (behind only the Clippers’ 78.69 average).
2. Kawhi Leonard (97) + Paul George (93)
The Clippers went from being an underdog playoff team with no stars to a squad with two full-blown superstars in their prime. Signing Kawhi Leonard and acquiring Paul George were two of the biggest moves of the summer, positioning the Clippers to contend for their first-ever championship. An argument can be made that Leonard and George are the best two-way players in the NBA, as they can both score from anywhere on the floor and lock down opponents at multiple positions. Leonard (who averaged 26.6 points last season) is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and has received five All-Defensive Team selections; George (who averaged 28.0 points last season) received the third-most votes for the DPOY and MVP awards last season and has received four All-Defensive Team selections. Leonard is tied with LeBron James for the highest-rated player in the game, while George is eighth-best among all players. With Lou Williams (84), Montrezl Harrell (83), Pat Beverley (79) and Co. alongside Leonard and George, the Clippers are the top-rated team in NBA 2K20 with an average player rating of 78.69.
3. Kevin Durant (96) + Kyrie Irving (91)
While every basketball fan is excited to see Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving play together, the Nets keep stressing that Durant will not suit up this season as he recovers from his ruptured Achilles. It’s clear that Brooklyn’s decision-makers don’t want Durant to feel pressured to come back quickly, which is a big reason why the Nets shut down any talk of an early return. Still, fans can insert Durant into the starting lineup on NBA 2K20 and imagine just how great this duo could be in 2020-21. Durant’s 96 rating trails only LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard and it’s tied with James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Irving’s 91 rating is tied for 10th-best in the game with Joel Embiid, and he’s the third-best point guard in 2K20 behind only Stephen Curry (95) and Damian Lillard (92). After factoring in Spencer Dinwiddie (82), DeAndre Jordan (82) and others, Brooklyn has the sixth-best team rating with an average player rating of 77.44.
4. James Harden (96) + Russell Westbrook (90)
There’s no question that the Rockets’ duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook looks tremendous on paper (and it’ll probably be outstanding in NBA 2K20 too), but there are questions about how these two ball-dominant guards can thrive alongside one another. While they previously played together on the Oklahoma City Thunder, a lot has changed since then. Back then, they were in their early-20s and Harden started only seven games during those three seasons. Now, Harden and Westbrook have each won an MVP award, posted jaw-dropping numbers and, perhaps most importantly, gotten used to being the No. 1 option on offense. It’ll be interesting to watch these two dynamic playmakers try to figure this out along with head coach Mike D’Antoni. They’ll be an NBA 2K20 juggernaut, but real games are different from video games. Harden’s 96 rating is tied for third-highest in the game with Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo, while Westbrook is tied for the 12th-highest rating with Nikola Jokic. Houston has the 11th-best team rating (with an average player rating of 76.64).
5. Stephen Curry (95) + Klay Thompson (89)
Some would argue that the Splash Brothers are rated too low (particularly Thompson), especially since they’ve won three championships and clearly proven that they can co-exist. While the rest of the top duos must learn how to fit together since they were assembled this summer, Curry and Thompson already have excellent chemistry. (Harden and Westbrook played together in Oklahoma City, but their roles were very different). While Golden State isn’t entering this season as the presumptive title favorite like they have in recent years, they still have a terrific core with Curry, Thompson, D’Angelo Russell (87) and Draymond Green (86). It’s important to note that Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, so he’ll be sidelined until at least the beginning of 2020. Curry has the sixth-highest rating in 2K20 (and he’s the top-rated point guard), while Thompson is tied for the 14th-highest rating. Golden State has the fifth-best team rating in the game (with an average player rating of 77.71).
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo (96) + Khris Middleton (85)
When the NBA 2K20 ratings were announced, Milwaukee fans weren’t happy. The Bucks are rated as just the 12th-best team in the game (with an average player rating of 76.44) despite winning a league-high 60 games last year. They’re ranked behind the Boston Celtics (77.00 average rating) and San Antonio Spurs (76.75) among others. And even though Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming off a dominant MVP season, his 96 rating puts him behind LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard (who are both rated 97 overall). However, the main reason the Bucks are so low on this list is that the next-best Bucks are Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe at 85 overall. Middleton was an All-Star last season, yet he has a lower rating than DeMarcus Cousins (86) and he’s tied with Zach LaVine (85), Tobias Harris (85), Clint Capela (85), etcetera. It seems very likely that Middleton, Brook Lopez (79) and the Bucks as a whole will improve their rating as the season gets underway.
7. Damian Lillard (92) + CJ McCollum (87)
Nobody is sleeping on the Blazers anymore after this team advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season. (Even Jennifer has come around). Lillard and McCollum averaged a combined 51.6 points and 6.6 threes during their Conference Finals run and they’ve been giving opposing defenders fits for years. Unlike the newly assembled duos on this list, they’ve spent the last six seasons developing chemistry and learning how to bring out the best in each other. Lillard is now a four-time All-Star and while McCollum has yet to be selected, it’s very possible that could change this year. Lillard is the ninth-highest-rated player in NBA 2K20 (and the second-best point guard behind only Stephen Curry), while McCollum is tied for the 21st-highest rating with Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal among others. Portland’s 77.00 average player rating is tied for the eighth-best team rating in the game with the Boston Celtics.
8. Joel Embiid (91) and Ben Simmons (87)
These seem like pretty conservative ratings and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons finish the season rated higher. After all, Simmons is just 23 years old and entering his third NBA season while Embiid is still only 25 years old and entering his fourth NBA campaign. With Jimmy Butler taking his talents to South Beach, Embiid and Simmons will be asked to take on more responsibilities once again, though they will have some help from Tobias Harris (85 overall) and Al Horford (85). Philadelphia went all-in on this group, as they owe the most guaranteed money of any team in the NBA moving forward ($642,251,236). Embiid is tied for the game’s 10th-best rating with Kyrie Irving (and he’s the second-best big man behind only Anthony Davis). Simmons is tied for 21st-highest-rated with CJ McCollum, Pascal Siakam, D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal among others. The 76ers currently have the seventh-best team rating in the game with an average player rating of 77.36.
9. Donovan Mitchell (88) + Rudy Gobert (88)
The Utah Jazz don’t have a single All-Star on their team, but you’d never know it looking at their ratings. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are both rated 88 overall, which ties them for 16th-highest in the game with Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Blake Griffin. They are rated higher than quite a few players who were All-Stars last season including Ben Simmons (87), D’Angelo Russell (87), LaMarcus Aldridge (87), Bradley Beal (87), Nikola Vucevic (86), Khris Middleton (85) and Kyle Lowry (85). Mitchell is only 23 years old and entering his third NBA season, so it’s very possible that his rating will increase if he shows progress once the season starts. If we were looking at the best trios in NBA 2K20, the Jazz would be ranked even higher on this list since Mike Conley is rated 87 overall. Bojan Bogdanovic (83) and Joe Ingles (79) round out their starting lineup, making this Jazz team stacked in NBA 2K20 just like in real life. In fact, Utah has the third-highest team rating in the game with an average player rating of 78.17 (which trails only the Lakers and Clippers).
10. Blake Griffin (88) + Andre Drummond (86)
This is a dominant frontcourt that opposing power forwards and centers hate to see on their schedule. Blake Griffin is a six-time All-Star who has expanded his game every season he’s been in the league and Andre Drummond is a two-time All-Star who can have a 20-point, 20-rebound performance any given night. Griffin is tied for the 16th-highest rating in the game with Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Jimmy Butler. Drummond is tied for 32nd-best with Nikola Vucevic, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox and DeMarcus Cousins among others. Despite having two players rated in the high-80s, the Pistons are tied for the 24th-rated team (with an average player rating of 75.50). This is largely due to the supporting cast around Griffin and Drummond, which is led by Derrick Rose (80), Reggie Jackson (80), Luke Kennard (75) and Markieff Morris (75)
10. Luka Doncic (87) and Kristaps Porzingis (87)
After an impressive 2019-20 season that culminated in Rookie of the Year honors, all eyes will be on Luka Doncic to see what he’ll do as a sophomore. If he shows improvement in his second year, it’s possible that the 20-year old will see his rating improve. Kristaps Porzingis hasn’t played in an NBA game since February 6, 2018, when he tore his ACL, but he’ll make his Mavs debut soon. Porzingis, who is still just 24 years old, was averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.9 threes (on 39.5 percent shooting) when he got hurt. Doncic and Porzingis could form a terrific one-two punch for Dallas. Doncic and Porzingis are both rated 87 overall, which is tied for 21st-highest rating in the game with CJ McCollum, Pascal Siakam, Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell and Bradley Beal among others. Even though Doncic and Porzingis are the only Dallas players with a rating above 77, the Mavericks have the 13th-best team rating in the game (with an average player rating of 76.43) because they have many players in the mid-70s including Dwight Powell (77), Tim Hardaway Jr. (77), Delon Wright (76) and Jose Juan Barea (76).
10. Nikola Jokic (90) + Jamal Murray (84)
The Nuggets may seem underrated when you see that Nikola Jokic is rated 90 (which is tied for 12th-best in the game with Russell Westbrook) and Jamal Murray is rated just 84 (which is tied for 50th-highest in the game with Lou Williams, Kyle Kuzma, Kevin Love and others). However, Denver actually has the fourth-best team rating in the game with an average player rating 78.08 (behind only the Lakers, Clippers and Jazz). While they don’t necessarily have a great “duo” in the game, they’re ranked so highly as a team because they’re incredibly well-rounded. After Jokic and Murray, they have Paul Millsap (82), Gary Harris (79), Will Barton (78), Jerami Grant (77), Malik Beasley (77), Monte Morris (77), Mason Plumlee (77), Michael Porter (76), etc. They may not rank very highly in this exercise, but they have solid players at every position and nice depth. Also, Murray is just 22 years old and Jokic is only 24, so it’s very possible they could each increase their rating by continuing to play well.
10. DeMar DeRozan (87) + LaMarcus Aldridge (87)
Like the Mavericks’ duo, the Spurs have two stars who are each rated 87-overall in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. The big difference is that Aldridge is 34 years old and DeRozan is 30, so it’s hard to imagine them significantly increasing their ratings going forward. With that said, Aldridge and DeRozan are still very talented and there’s a reason they’re tied for the 21st-highest rating in the game with CJ McCollum, Pascal Siakam, Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, Mike Conley and Bradley Beal among others. Aldridge is a seven-time All-Star (including last year) and DeRozan has earned four All-Star nods. San Antonio has the 10th-best team rating in the game (with an average player rating of 76.75) because after DeRozan and Aldridge, they have a solid supporting cast that includes Rudy Gay (81), Dejounte Murray (78), Derrick White (78), DeMarre Carroll (77), Jakob Poeltl (77), Patty Mills (75), Trey Lyles (75) and Marco Belinelli (75) among others.
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