Free agency allowed Deron Williams and Steve Nash — two point guards who thrive in the pick-and-roll offense — to lose their partners in crime this offseason, as Carlos Boozer left Utah for Chicago, and Amar’e Stoudemire left Phoenix for New York. So while Nash and D-Will look for new recipients of their pinpoint passes, here are the Top 10 point guard/big man tandems you need to watch for this upcoming season:
10. Stephen Curry and David Lee (Warriors)
Expect another All-Star caliber year from Lee, who should put up similar 20-and-11 numbers in Golden State’s system as he did with the Knicks. Curry averaged 17.5 points and 5.9 assists in his rookie year as he and Monta Ellis carried the offense from the outside with no real inside threat.
9. Ray Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks)
The combination of Felton’s speed and STAT’s power equals a more exciting brand of basketball than we’ve seen at Madison Square Garden in years.
8. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan (Spurs)
This might be their last year together, and Duncan is on the downside of the hill at 34 years old, but they’ve still got three championships under their belt as teammates and can pretty much run the pick-and-roll in their sleep.
7. Devin Harris and Brook Lopez (Nets)
Somewhat of a style clash, as Devin is at his best in a fast-paced system while Lopez is a traditional back-to-the-basket center. But they’ll figure it out under new Nets coach Avery Johnson.
6. Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut (Bucks)
How impressive were these two last season? If Jennings hadn’t struggled for a stretch in the middle of the season the Bucks could have earned higher than the 6th seed in the East, and if Bogut hadn’t gotten hurt late in the season, they could have advanced past the first round. If they stay healthy and consistent, Jennings and Bogut could be at the top of this list in a few years.
5. Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
It just seems like no matter how old J-Kidd gets, he’s still able to control a game and get the best of his younger counterparts. He and Dirk make one serious pick-and-pop tandem, and while Dirk is known for scoring and Kidd for his passing, they’re also among the best rebounders at their respective positions in the NBA.
4. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
If KG’s knees hadn’t started to betray him, this current version of the Celtics might have three championships by now and Rondo/Garnett would be considered one of the best tandems of all-time, even challenging Stockton and Malone. Defensively, these two can dominate a game without scoring a point.
3. Chris Paul and David West (Hornets)
Some say it doesn’t matter who you couple Chris Paul with, but D-West doesn’t get enough credit for putting up All-Star type numbers every year. CP3 can only pass him the ball; he’s not knocking down those mid-range jumpers and getting boards for West.
2. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard (Magic)
How many ESPN “Top 10 Plays” need to happen before defenders realize the obvious? If you single-cover Dwight with no weak side help, he’s going to live on alley-oops from Jameer.
1. Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer (Bulls)
I know they haven’t actually played together yet, but Chicago’s front-office knew what they were doing when they signed Boozer for $80 million. Whether running the pick-and-roll or the pick-and-pop, playing with his back to the basket or as a face-up four, Boozer is one of the best finishers in the game, able to score inside with his right or left hand and hit jumpers out to 18 feet. Rose is an explosive force who can’t be kept out of the lane and will create plenty of open looks for his new teammate by drawing the defense’s attention.
Honorable Mention — Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge (Blazers), Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming (Rockets), Chauncey Billups and Nene (Nuggets), Baron Davis and Blake Griffin (Clippers)