Over the years we’ve become prone to accepting a clear championship-favorite before the season even tips-off. This is due, in large part, to the once shocking subject of “superteams” quickly becoming normalized. But things change quickly. And today, I see a league that’s wide-open for the taking – a league that, instead of creating additional three-headed-monsters, has turned more toward dynamic duos.
The following organizations are ones that, in one way or another, ensured a future this offseason with two of the league’s top-30 scorers last season.
- Houston Rockets: James Harden & Russell Westbrook
- LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard & Paul George
- LA Lakers: LeBron James & Anthony Davis
- Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving & Kevin Durant
- Portland Trailblazers: Damian Lillard & CJ McCollum
- Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell & Mike Conley
- Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry & D’Angelo Russell (also extended Klay Thompson)
While those teams may have some of the most “prestigious” duos in the game, it’s not hard to find other teams trying to follow suit. For example, the Dallas Mavericks now have Kristaps Prozingis and Luka Doncic, the Boston Celtics have Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker and the Philadelphia 76ers have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The era of the duo is upon us.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe discussed whether a “big two” is better than a “big three” for NBA teams nowadays, which made me wonder what this all means for the Bulls. While Lowe believes the league will turn back to its three-star ways eventually, the dichotomy between then and now may actually be working in favor of Chicago.
I mean … it’s not all that crazy to imagine the Bulls on the brink of their own dynamic duo right? While the obvious answer would be Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, a load of young talent on the roster provides even more opportunities. Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. are two players who supposedly have through-the-roof potential, and that creates four decent shots to find at least one half of a potential duo.
And while the options are there for Chicago … so are the assets. If the Bulls decide that they have only one dynamic piece on their roster, they can always hit the trade market in hopes of finding another. The team’s financial situation down the road is also strongly working in their favor. Two offseasons from now the organization should have a substantial amount of cap space to hit free agency hard and sign a (or multiple) max player(s).
With the NBA season still over two months away, it’s hard to go anything beyond philosophical in this discussion. We don’t quite know yet what a good dynamic duo looks like in today’s NBA (unless we’re counting the success of Lillard and McCollum?). But when you look at that list of teams above, we do know there are now multiple proven ways to get your hands on one (drafting, trading and free agency). I know it may sound silly, but finding and signing one or two All-Stars is way easier than finding or signing three.
At the end of the day, throwing your name into the hat during this “duo” era might turn out to be much easier than over the previous decade. If that means it’s easier for the Bulls, that’s fine by me.