With the dissolution of the Golden State Warriors big three, NBA dynamic duos are trendy again. Gone are the days of three top players joining forces to create a super team. The NBA has more parity than it has seen in years thanks to the end of super teams. Dynamic duos were the wave in the 90s and early 2000s and players realize it’s the best brand of basketball for various reasons.
NBA Dynamic Duos Are Here to Stay
Everybody Wants Their Payday
The main issue with having a super team is the ability to pay everybody long term. While players who are desperate to win their first title may be willing to sacrifice a few million dollars for the ring, compensation is important in the grand scheme. It is the reason these juggernaut teams only last for three or four seasons. Once players win a ring or two and their contracts are fulfilled their value increases significantly. Look at Kevin Durant as an example. While he had his own reasons for leaving the Warriors, there is no way Durant was taking a pay cut to keep the team intact. The Warriors would have four players under max contracts and no room to add rotational talent. Super teams aren’t a sustainable business model.
If a star athlete tells you he or she doesn’t care about their numbers, ask about their beachfront property in Idaho. Not only are stats important for contracts, but they also have an effect on a player’s ego. When you have three or more stars on one team, somebody is going to become a high paid role player.
Look at Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat and Kevin Love with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bosh averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds with the Toronto Raptors. Those numbers dropped to 19 points and 8 rebounds with the Heat. Love averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds his last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves and only 16 points and 10 rebounds the next year with the Cavs. This is often the case unless a player takes the Klay Thompson route.
Winning a championship ring or two is great no matter who’s on the team. I believe the natural competitive spirit is coming out of the superstars more today. Damian Lillard is on record saying he prefers to win his way over joining a super team. “If I go play with three other stars, I don’t think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that,” Lillard said in an interview with Complex Sports.
There are other stars like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Giannis Antetokounmpo who share this mentality. Not to say LeBron James and Durant aren’t competitive, but these guys would rather win on their own than take an easier path.
We all remember how it felt when the super teams were formed in Miami and Golden State. A feeling of wanting to pick up the remote and fast forward to the team splitting up. If you weren’t a fan of the team or players, there was little reason to be actively engaged in the NBA season. It was a forgone conclusion those teams were going to hold up the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Viewership and engagement may have increased but it was for the wrong reasons. The vast majority of discussions were the hatred for those teams and players. It became a black eye for Adam Silver and the NBA. Not to mention the effect on the small market teams like Charlotte Hornets and Phoenix Suns. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few closed-door conversations between the league and the player’s union to find a happy medium.
The Present and Beyond
Today, players have the control to do almost anything they feel is in their best interest. From joining forces to win championships to load management, this is a new day in the NBA. Some outsiders may feel players have too much power and are ruining the league. The retro concept of NBA dynamic duos, however, is one that is welcome with open arms.
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