Best NBA Draft Duos since 1985

ESPN reported on Saturday that the Cleveland Cavaliers were attempting to pull of a three-team trade that would net them the 2nd overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. If the trade goes through, the Cavs would have the first two picks of draft, which they would reportedly use to select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams. It doesn’t sound like the trade will actually happen, but the speculation got me thinking, if you could pick pick a duo from any draft of the past 25 years, which draft would you pick? So, I made a list. I didn’t just take the 1st and 2nd picks of each draft, I did some revisionist history to find the best duos from each draft regardless of where the players were selected. Here are the top 10 draft duos:

10. 2001: Pau Gasol (3rd pick) and Joe Johnson (10th pick)

Gasol and Johnson, both multiple time all-stars with excellent offensive skills, would make a solid inside-outside duo to build a team around. While LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh headlined the epic 2010 free agent class, Johnson actually came out the richest. Johnson signed a max contract with the Hawks, while James, Wade and Bosh all took pay cuts to join forces on South Beach.

Also in the 2001 Draft: Gerald Wallace (25th), Zach Randolph (19th), Tony Parker (28th), Gilbert Arenas (30th)

9. 1995: Kevin Garnett (5th) and Jerry Stackhouse (3rd)

Kevin Garnett, a future hall-of-famer and one of the best defensive players in NBA history, was a no-brainer selection. Stackhouse was a tougher choice. Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace would have been solid selections as well. Garnett and Wallace, teammates on the 2010 Celtics, would have been a tenacious defensive pair in their primes. However, Stackhouse’s scoring ability makes him the better choice to pair with Garnett.

Also in the 1995 Draft: Wallace (4th) and Finley (21st)

8. 1994: Jason Kidd (2nd) and Glenn Robinson (1st)

Kidd is one of the best point guards of all time, who is still dishing it out with the Mavs, and Robinson was one of the best power forwards in the NBA during his prime. Picking Robinson over Grant Hill was a tough decision. Hill battled injuries for a good part of his career, but he’s still playing for the Suns, while Robinson has been retired for six years.

Also in the 1994 Finals: Hill (3rd), and Juwon Howard (5th)

7. 1997: Tim Duncan (1st) and Tracy McGrady (9th)

Tim Duncan, an MVP, three time Champion and future hall-of-famer, is  simply one of the best players in NBA history. McGrady, a winner of multiple scoring crowns, was a dominant force in his prime. Unfortunately, his prime was cut short due to injuries, but that doesn’t diminish how much talent he had.

Also in the 1997 Draft: Chauncey Billups (3rd) and Stephen Jackson (43rd)

6. 1992: Shaquille O’Neal (1st) and Alonzo Mourning (2nd)

You might not choose to draft two centers in the same draft, but Shaq and Mourning would form one monstrous set of twin towers, on par with other great sets of big men like Tim Duncan/David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon/Ralph Sampson.

Also in the 1992 Draft: Christian Laettner (3rd), Latrell Sprewell (24th)

5. 1998: Dirk Nowitzki (9th) and Paul Pierce (10th)

Dirk and Pierce, two future hall-of-famers, would make for one high scoring forward pair. Pierce already has a ring, and hopefully, Dirk gets his in a week or two.

Also in the 1998 Draft: Antawn Jamison (4th), Vince Carter (5th) and Rashard Lewis (32nd)

4. 1996: Kobe Bryant (13th) and Steve Nash (16th)

1996 was one of the deepest drafts in NBA history, featuring three future NBA MVPs. Bryant and Nash would make for the best duo, although a combination featuring Allen Iverson or Ray Allen wouldn’t be too shabby.

Also in the 1996 Draft: Iverson (1st), Allen (5th), Stephon Marbury (4th), Antoine Walker (6th), Ben Wallace (Undrafted)

3. 2003: LeBron James (1st) and Dwyane Wade (5th)

As a Bulls fan, it pains me to say this, but when it’s all said and done, this could be the best duo in basketball history. Scottie Pippen probably agrees with me. Right now, before they’ve won a ring together, this duo is third. The 2003 Draft was stacked Carmelo Anthony went 3rd and the third Heatle, Chris Bosh, went 4th.

Also in the 2003 Draft: Anthony (3rd), Bosh (4th), Chris Kaman (6th) and David West (18th)

2. 1987: David Robinson (1st) and Scottie Pippen (5th)

Two members of the Dream Team and hall-of-fame. Maybe Pippen and Robinson wouldn’t have been quite the duo that Pippen and Jordan were, but the two would have been a force.

Also in the 1987 Draft: Reggie Miller (11th), Kevin Johnson (7th), Horace Grant (10th), and Mark Jackson (18th)

1. 1 1985: Patrick Ewing (1st) and Karl Malone (13th)

These two hall-of-famers would have made one hell of a front court. Maybe if Ewing and Malone had
played together these two wouldn’t belong in the “best players to not win a championship” club.

Also in the 1985 Draft: Chris Mullin (7th), Joe Dumars (18th)

Just missed the cut: 2002 (Amare Stoudemire and Yao Ming), 1989 (Shawn Kemp and Tim Hardaway), 2007 (Kevin Durant and Al Horford), 1993 (Chris Webber and Allan Houston), and 2008 (Derrick Rose and Kevin Love)

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