It's duos week here at NBA.com, and we've put together a single-elimination knock out bracket for the best twosomes in NBA history.
VOTE NOW: Which all-time duo wins a 2-on-2 tournament?
With only 16 spots available some iconic pairs got left off the list, so we asked our NBA.com Staff who's the biggest snub from our duos bracket.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): They only had three years together but in those three years they were one of the league's best duos. Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway went to the postseason in each of the years they played together. They would go to the Finals in just their second year together and then lose to the eventual champion Chicago Bulls the following year in the Conference Finals before breaking up.
They had great regular-season success, winning 50, 57 and 60 games in their three years together, respectively.
Shaq and Penny were both off court stars, with Shaq dabbling in acting and rapping and Penny - who acted a bit too - had the equally famous puppet Lil Penny side in Nike commercials.
The pair broke up far too quickly.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): It isn't the duo that first comes to your mind when you think of either of these players, but maybe it should be. I'm going Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
This sort of feels like cheating since we already had Steph and Klay Thompson and KD and Russell Westbrook on the list, but I think when we look back at NBA history years from now, we're going to realize we took Steph and KD for granted.
Maybe it was all the hate that surrounded their greatness or the false narrative that they didn't enjoy playing with each other, but through three seasons together we saw the best scoring duo of all-time. Sorry, Kobe and Shaq.
Between Steph's limitless range shooting and KD's ability to get a bucket whenever he wanted from wherever he wanted, this prolific pairing was totally unstoppable. They won two NBA titles together and if not for Durant's injury in the 2019 Playoffs, they could have very easily made it a three-peat.
This duo will always be slept on because they aren't naturally paired together, but Curry and Durant are without a doubt one of the best twosomes in NBA history.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): We often marvel at the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder had three future MVPs at the same time, prompting us to wonder 'what if?' But it feels like we don't do it as much for a pair of future MVPs that took the floor together in Dallas in Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.
I'm guilty of it, too. I had to double back to take an inventory of how much success the pair had together and was reminded that they spent six seasons as teammates.
It started off rough, with the Mavs going a combined 59-73 in the first two seasons with those two together, but in Year 3, Nash became a full-time starter and the Mavericks snapped a 10-year playoff drought with a 53-win season in 2000-01.
In 2001, Michael Finley was the guy as he was Dallas' lone All-Star but the next two seasons saw Nash and Nowitzki represent the Mavs as All-Stars and members of the All-NBA team. In 2002-03, Dallas won 60 games and fell two games shy of the NBA Finals, losing to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
After a first-round exit in 2004, Nash moved on to Phoenix as a free agent, as Dallas was hesitant to offer him a lucrative deal due to concerns surrounding his ability to play over 32 minutes per game past the age of 30. Well, he did just that as a member of the Suns, averaging 34.8 minutes per game over the next four seasons, winning the league's MVP award in 2005 and 2006, followed by Dirk winning in 2007.
It's clear that Nash, who entered the league in 1996, was only getting better with time while Nowitzki was easing into his prime as well. Sure, Phoenix's system had a hand in Nash's success, but there's no telling how good this pair could have grown to be together. They would each come close to winning without one another (with Dirk ultimately doing so in 2011) but to see them win one in their prime would have been a thing of beauty.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): The 2007-08 Boston Celtics are so widely lauded as a team that I'm not sure Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce get the credit they deserve as a duo.
There's a case to be made that Garnett is the single best defensive player of all-time. He only won one Defensive Player of the Year award but I'm not sure if there's anyone else who could consistently bang with 7-footers while putting the screws on shiftier perimeter types. And while he probably settled for too many mid-range jumpers, that high release on those 16-footers made it practically unguardable.
As for Pierce, he's criminally underrated as a clutch-time scorer that was able to get to his spots whenever he wanted. Though not an all-league defender, he wasn't a turnstile either and in a 2-on-2 setting alongside Garnett, his immense pride and competitive juices would have made him good enough to get the job done.
They don't have the gaudiest of stats, but KG and Truth wouldn't have backed down from anyone.
Alex Novick (@ANov_SN): In case you missed it, the New York Knicks were one of the strongest, most likeable NBA teams throughout the early-to-mid 90s. Over a six-year span from 1991 to 1997, the Knicks used a tough-as-nails, defensive-minded approach to average 55 wins per season while leading the NBA by a wide margin in points allowed per 100 possessions (101.7). Only the Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics and Utah Jazz won more games during this time, and no team was more of a grind to compete against.
They were, of course, led by Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, the former No. 1 overall pick whose 11 All-Star appearances and seven All-NBA selections speak for themselves. Ewing averaged 23.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks from '91 to '97, being named to 2nd Team All-NBA three times.
On the polar opposite end of this pairing was the undrafted John Starks. Clearly, Starks doesn't have nearly the same degree of accolades, statistics or pedigree possessed by most other players from famous duos we're discussing. But not many men electrified a fanbase like the athletic 6-foot-3 guard, or had the ability to swing the momentum of a game with sheer energy on both sides of the floor.
Just ask any Knicks fan about The Dunk.
During this six-year span Starks averaged 15.2 points, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 35 percent from deep. Only five players made more 3s than Starks over this period - as he hoisted over five per game - and nothing got Madison Square Garden rocking more than Starks connecting from long range.
Starks, as did this duo, peaked in the 1993-94 season. This year saw Starks' lone All-Star nod (averaging career-highs of 19.0 points and 5.9 assists) and the only Finals appearance for this version of Knicks, in which they fell to Hakeem Olajuwon's Houston Rockets in seven games. It wasn't only Hakeem who kept Ewing and Starks from a title, as they were bounced from the playoffs three separate times by another impressive duo: Jordan and Pippen.
You can make a case the 90s Knicks were one of best teams to not win a title despite thriving over an extended period of time. And that missing banner is probably the biggest reason the Ewing-Starks duo doesn't get the notoriety it should today, outside of nostalgic Knick fans.
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