Friday night, the 76ers put the NBA world on notice. In James Harden’s 76er debut, the team would go on the road and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102. Harden put up 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 12 assists, while MVP favorite Joel Embiid dropped 34 points and 10 rebounds.
That game seemed like it was just the beginning of something special, as the two already seemed in sync despite not having time to build real chemistry yet. So now the question is asked: is this the best duo in the NBA? In this article, I’ll rank my top three outside of the Philadelphia pairing, and then make my pick to where Harden and Embiid will rank by season’s end.
3. Devin Booker and Chris Paul
While not the biggest names in all of basketball, this backcourt duo seems to only do one thing: win. Since the addition of Chris Paul, the Suns have been the best regular season team in all of basketball, securing a two seed a year ago and now are running away with the first seed in the western conference this season.
In playoff basketball, the duo showed no dip in production, taking down superstars such as Lebron James and Nikola Jokic on the way to a NBA Finals appearance. Despite the loss, Booker still averaged 28 points per game in the series, and CP3 put up 21 and 8 assists.
2. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
Based on talent alone, this duo would be number one by far. Kevin Durant is one of the 15 greatest players in NBA history, while Kyrie Irving is a dribbling maestro with an incredible clutch gene.
However, the reason why they are not ranked one is because of their availability. Durant and Irving are yet to play a game together this season, and Irving was injured last year during the playoffs, which played a major role in the Nets’ second round exit.
When healthy, this is the most exciting duo in basketball. If they can stay on the court together for a prolonged period of time, they surely will secure the top spot.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton
The reigning NBA champions, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton complement each other’s games perfectly, with the Greek Freak dominating the paint and Middleton controlling the perimeter.
Giannis is arguably the best player in the entire NBA, and Middleton’s ability to hit jumpshots on a consistent basis was a major reason why Milwaukee was able to secure the Larry O’brien Trophy.
Until the two are dethroned, the pairing has to be considered the best duo in all of basketball… for now.
Joel Embiid and James Harden
When observing the best duos in all of basketball, there is no reason why Harden and Embiid cannot be regarded as the best scoring combo in the NBA by season’s end. The two’s playstyles generate the best pick and roll pairing in over a decade, and both can drop 40 points in any given game.
While it is still way too early to regard them as the best in all of basketball, if Friday’s game against Minnesota was any indication, “EmBeard” will be impossible to neutralize. The 76ers are true title contenders this season, as the level of talent from their top two stars are as great as any other pairing in the NBA.
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