Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece |

Two seasons ago, a low-key story line in the NBA was the expected positive impact of duos and I made that clear in this piece (New Duos set up plenty of intrigue for 2017-18 NBA season). Ironically, the league is two years removed from that partial identity and now that identity is very much a reality since rosters are more balanced.

Simply, the super-team era is over (which is pleasing) and tandems are the new foundation.

No matter how its cut, the league is showcasing almost 10 new duos this season and unfortunately that total doesn’t include Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joining forces in Brooklyn.

As a fan of evenly-competitive basketball, it is exciting to see so much more balance going into a new decade. Since the NBA often draws parallels to the music industry, it brings to mind this analogy. At one time in music, groups (super teams) dominated, then duos occupied the stage and now it’s all about being a solo artist (one superstar).

But currently the move is to have one franchise player with a well-qualified sidekick–the new NBA.

Now to the teams that really matter to those that honestly don’t.

LAC – Without a superstar, the Clippers had everyone’s respect last season and now they have Kawhi Leonard, a two-time Finals MVP, and Paul George. I have to quote Nate Dogg from 25 years ago since all competition will “Know what’s up with 2-1-3.”

LAL – Once again, the Lakers restructured their roster but this time Anthony Davis joins LeBron James which should end the franchise’s six-year playoff drought.

HOU – The Rockets swapped Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, reuniting James Harden with his former Oklahoma City teammate. Now a huge question will be who will adapt best to all of the questionable shots and decisions?

UTA – The trade for Mike Conley not only puts Conley and Donovan Mitchell in the best backcourt debate but in the top duo discussion as well. The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic also turns the Jazz into a serious threat in the West.

GS – The super team Stephen Curry was a member of with Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is no more since Durant is gone and Thompson is sidelined due to injury but D’Angelo Russell can score. But can Russell be consistent enough in this system?

IND – With Malcolm Brogdon now on the roster, the Pacers may have the best backcourt in the East once Victor Oladipo returns.

BOS – Free of the responsibility of always having to initiate the offense, Kemba Walker should have two trustworthy options in Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum.

DAL – Last season, Luka Doncic was named Rookie of the Year, meaning he has game, and Kristaps Porzingis can ball as well. So with good health, the Mavericks could be headed back in the right direction.

BK – Can Kyrie keep the Nets among the best teams in the East while Durant sits this one (2019-20 season) out?

MIL – Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning MVP but the Bucks will need more from Khris Middleton to surpass last season’s success.

POR – The Blazers retooled some of their roster but Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum aren’t gone so don’t be surprised that Portland will still have to be reckoned with in the West.

DEN – Nikola Jokic, the best passing big man in the league, and Jamal Murray will have to elevate their play even more for the Nuggets to finish second or better in the West this season.

PHI – After the way their 2019 season ended, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who maybe finally ready to shoot more jumpshots, should be focused on leading the Sixers to the NBA’s best overall record.

SA – Veterans such as DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge will continue to lead the Spurs but what kind of impact will the young talent have?

TOR – Most of the supporting cast is back from the championship run but the driving force, Kawhi Leonard, behind it all is not. So can Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam keep the Raptors from that expected hangover?

MIA – Jimmy Butler doesn’t have an equal sidekick like many other All-Stars but the Heat needed this All-Star, who should ensure a return to the postseason.

ATL – Trae Young and John Collins leading the Hawks back to the playoffs or close to that accomplishment will strengthen their case as one of the best young duos.

SAC – Even though the Kings weren’t a real threat to make the playoffs last season, they did finish ninth in the West. But this season, building on that fact will be just as tough for De’Aaron Fox and Co.

NO – No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson dunking a lot is a safe bet this season but will the rookie provide something else not expected of him?

MEM – The Grizzlies will not be a “must-see” team like the Pelicans but Ja Morant should have some “must-see” moments.

PHX – Devin Booker will continue to get buckets and DeAndre Ayton’s play should improve but the Suns will struggle to win games once again.

CHI – The Bulls have a nice, young collection of talent but can Zach LaVine lead them to the playoffs?

DET – The players the Pistons had on their roster last season did enough to get them into the playoffs, and adding Derrick Rose could help deliver similar results.

ORL – There is less pressure in Orlando than in Philadelphia for Markelle Fultz. How will he handle his new situation?

MIN – Due to where they were drafted, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins should be mentioned with some of the best duos. Maybe they will make a better case for their sake this season.

NY – Expect to see a lot of shots taken by Julius Randle and RJ Barrett and not much else from the Knicks.

OKC – With Chris Paul on the floor, the Thunder could be decent but if Paul gets hurt or is traded then the rebuild in Oklahoma City is definitely in full effect.

WAS – Due to an Achilles injury, John Wall probably will miss this season so Bradley Beal will be expected to make the big plays and big shots again.

CLE – Let the battle for the starting point guard position between Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and maybe Kevin Porter Jr. begin.

CHA – Terry Rozier served his time as a backup point guard on a solid team. Now he will be a starter on a bad team.