Forget super teams, dynamic duos are all the rage now in the NBA.
The wildest offseason in league history has delivered potential parity, in part because it feels like every team has an NBA Jam-like power pairing at the top of their roster.
The Lakers coupled Anthony Davis with LeBron James. The Clippers got a Kawhi Leonard commitment after trading for Paul George. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took their brooding to Brooklyn. On Thursday night, the Houston Rockets dropped jaws by trading for Russell Westbrook and reuniting him with former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden.
Suddenly, there are star duos from coast to coast (especially out west) and there’s a secondary race to add complementary talent around them. Health could limit just how much we’ll see of some duos but, run down potential playoff teams, and it’s not hard to identify their star pairing. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in Portland, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in Utah, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in Denver, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee.
And then you get to the Boston Celtics.
In an offseason in which Irving and Al Horford departed for Atlantic Division rivals, the Celtics lost quite a bit of star power. The arrival of Kemba Walker, an All-NBA third-teamer last season, locks down one of Boston’s star spots. But there’s room for debate about spot 2.
Is a healthier Gordon Hayward ready to reclaim his star spot? Is Jayson Tatum poised to make a third-year leap that elevates him to definitive star status? Could Jaylen Brown build off last year’s progress and be the Boston youngster that emerges?
The bigger question might be whether Boston’s lack of a definitive duo is a good thing or a bad thing. That three players can make the case for the No. 2 spot is seemingly a positive; that’s there’s uncertainty that any of them will make the strides necessary to cement that status is slightly concerning.
There’s a case to be made that the definitive second star might not be on Boston's roster yet. The Celtics could bundle young talent and some of their draft capital — including the future Memphis pick — and make a play for whatever star shakes free next.