The jokes are doing the rounds on social media. Just like Thanos restored the balance of the universe with a snap of his fingers in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, Kawhi Leonard seems to have done the same in helping the Toronto Raptors win their maiden championship by beating the injury-plagued Golden State Warriors.
Until last season, if there was one team that looked unbeatable and destined to make the NBA Finals year after year, it was the Golden State Warriors. But now with the departure of star player Kevin Durant and key contributors Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, the core of the Warriors seems to have taken a blow.
After the conclusion of arguably the craziest offseason in NBA history, the whole landscape of the NBA has changed as we know it. There isn't one definite answer as to which team will come out on top in either of the conferences. Especially out west, all the top teams from last season are yet again fully stacked albeit with different players.
Having said this, most of the teams vying for the championship next season have superstars in tandem, spear-heading their teams. In this piece, we will look at the ten best duos in the league and rank them according to their combined star power.
Honorable mention: Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)
Missing the cut from this list is the youngest duo of the lot. Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic could be the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash for all we know.
Two of the best European prospects of all-time, Doncic and Porzingis have the potential and necessary talent to lift a franchise to a perennial playoff spot and possible championship contention for the next several years.
Dallas found a gem in Doncic last year, who despite being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, got traded to the Mavericks in exchange for Trae Young. Doncic subsequently went on to win the Rookie of the Year award, after averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6 assists in the regular season.
Kristaps Porzingis, on the other hand, was drafted by the New York Knicks with the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, a move that was heavily criticized by the sports analysts and fans alike.
Despite being booed by the Knicks fans at the start of his career, Porzingis was later embraced by them when he proved his mettle as a solid NBA player. In only his third year in the league, he was selected to his first All-Star game before he tore his ACL. Last season he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks after having disagreements with the Knicks front office.
Barring any setbacks, this duo has a bright future ahead of them.
#10 Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons)
Blake Griffin revived his career last season when he averaged career-high points per game while his running mate Andre Drummond continued to gobble up rebounds.
Despite their stars' strong showings, the Detroit Pistons could only go so far as they finished the regular season as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, barely making the playoffs. They were subsequently ousted by the Milwaukee Bucks in four straight games. Unlike other duos on this list, neither Griffin nor Drummond are adept at creating for their team although the former has been a willing passer throughout his career.
Further, Pistons' biggest offseason signing was former league MVP Derrick Rose who seemed to have resurrected his career with Minnesota Timberwolves last season. He is a clear upgrade over last season's starting point guard, Reggie Jackson, who has been a solid player for the franchise but has been inconsistent at times.
With former Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey leading the way, Pistons will look to take the next big step and become one of the contenders in the east.
#9 Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
Denver looked dangerous last season with Nikola Jokic taking a huge step forward as an MVP candidate. Jamal Murray, on the other hand, has been getting better every season. He got rewarded with a five year $170 million contract.
Especially since last season, Murray's performance has been like that of an All-Star. Coming to Nikola Jokic, he is the best passing big man in the league who is complemented well by Murray's ability to shoot the long ball. They thrive in the pick and roll action with Jokic creating shot opportunities for Murray at the top of the key or screening Murray's defender to allow him to drive to the basket.
Furthermore, Jokic's ability to shoot the ball for his size spaces the floor further up. For this very reason, Denver is known to have one of the best offenses in the league. With the potential return of rookie Michael Porter Jr. from injury and Bol Bol via the draft, Denver will look forward to staying relevant in the tough Western Conference.