Top NBA Duos and Trios

When Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Boston in 2007, the “Big Three” style of roster construction method came back to the forefront of modern team building. While the Spurs had long employed a Big Three of their own in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker, the rest of the NBA spent the rest of the decade catching up, to various degrees of success. LeBron, with his two stops in Miami and Cleveland, was the most prolific engineer of Big Threes, teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and then Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to win multiple championships. LeBron’s dominance, however, was cut short by the emergence of the Warriors, with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green redefining, in many ways, how modern basketball should be played.

What no one expected, however, was the Warriors turning their Big Three into a Big Four with the acquisition of Kevin Durant. With that foursome running roughshod over the league, the rest of the NBA, unable to compete with the Warrior’s firepower, started planning for the future when the Warriors would inevitably break up - luxury tax implications finally making it untenable to pay for the full ensemble of Green, Thompson, and Durant, in addition to Curry.

With Thompson’s ACL tear and Durant’s Achilles tear, followed by his subsequent departure for Brooklyn, this offseason marked the first season in years in which there was no clearly obvious NBA Finals matchup. To fill that power vacuum, NBA teams began to assemble a series of Big Twos: LeBron and AD, Kawhi and PG, Russ and James, and KD and Kyrie. The obvious conclusion is that player availability, in combination with tightening team finances, pushed GMs towards assembling these “duos” instead of looking for Big Threes of their own.

There’s another reason, though, and it has largely been inspired by the success of the Toronto Raptors. The Raptor’s Finals win over the Warriors showed that investing in a deep bench full of quality role players can help take down a roster which might be more “talented” on paper (but is more susceptible to injury), and that “fit” amongst the different players on the roster should be prized, and can help beat a roster of “more-talented” players whose games don’t fit together so neatly.

2020 Season

With this history in mind, I thought it would be fun to look at what the data can tell us about this season’s top duos and trios, as measured by Net Rating (Offensive Efficiency - Defensive Efficiency). Take a look below!

Duos

Best Overall

The NBAs Top Duos

Player 1 Player 2 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
G. Antetokounmpo D. DiVincenzo MIL 578 114.8 96 18.9
E. Bledsoe G. Antetokounmpo MIL 764 114.3 96.3 18.1
B. Lopez D. DiVincenzo MIL 488 116.5 99 17.5
K. Leonard M. Harrell LAC 539 116.6 99.7 17
C. Paul D. Schroder OKC 729 114.4 97.7 16.7
P. Beverley M. Harrell LAC 439 116 99.6 16.5
W. Matthews E. Bledsoe MIL 650 113.2 97.1 16.1
R. Gobert J. Ingles UTA 940 114.9 99.4 15.5
L. James K. Kuzma LAL 532 114 98.5 15.5
B. Bogdanovic J. Ingles UTA 883 115.1 99.8 15.3
K. Middleton G. Antetokounmpo MIL 714 112.2 97 15.2
D. Gallinari D. Schroder OKC 583 117.6 102.9 14.8
R. Hollis-Jefferson T. Davis TOR 470 111.9 97.2 14.8
W. Matthews D. DiVincenzo MIL 402 113.1 98.3 14.8
B. Lopez G. Antetokounmpo MIL 814 112.1 97.5 14.7

Best Offense

Player 1 Player 2 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
T. Hardaway Jr. L. Doncic DAL 720 121.1 106.6 14.5
D. Powell L. Doncic DAL 743 120.9 110.4 10.4
T. Hardaway Jr. D. Finney-Smith DAL 721 119.6 106.7 12.9
D. Bertans B. Beal WAS 655 119.3 116.6 2.7
D. Finney-Smith L. Doncic DAL 1013 118.4 111.6 6.8
T. Hardaway Jr. D. Powell DAL 633 118.2 104.6 13.6
D. Powell D. Finney-Smith DAL 741 117.8 107.6 10.2
D. Gallinari D. Schroder OKC 583 117.6 102.9 14.8
J. Harden B. McLemore HOU 725 117.6 103.1 14.5
A. Rivers B. McLemore HOU 477 117.6 109.5 8.1
D. Powell K. Porzingis DAL 498 117.1 105.3 11.9
G. Hayward K. Walker BOS 565 116.9 108.1 8.8
D. Booker M. Bridges PHX 557 116.8 107 9.8
S. Curry L. Doncic DAL 519 116.7 111.2 5.5
K. Leonard M. Harrell LAC 539 116.6 99.7 17

Best Defense

Player 1 Player 2 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
G. Antetokounmpo D. DiVincenzo MIL 578 114.8 96 18.9
M. Scott J. Embiid PHI 407 107.6 96.2 11.4
E. Bledsoe G. Antetokounmpo MIL 764 114.3 96.3 18.1
D. Jordan G. Temple BKN 451 95.9 96.5 -0.6
A. Horford M. Thybulle PHI 454 102.5 96.6 5.9
B. Lopez E. Bledsoe MIL 712 110.7 96.7 14
B. Wanamaker J. Tatum BOS 431 105.8 96.7 9
B. Lopez K. Middleton MIL 736 109.4 96.8 12.5
W. Matthews K. Middleton MIL 620 108.2 96.8 11.4
K. Middleton G. Antetokounmpo MIL 714 112.2 97 15.2
W. Matthews E. Bledsoe MIL 650 113.2 97.1 16.1
R. Hollis-Jefferson T. Davis TOR 470 111.9 97.2 14.8
D. Schroder S. Adams OKC 571 109.6 97.2 12.3
B. Lopez G. Antetokounmpo MIL 814 112.1 97.5 14.7
W. Matthews G. Antetokounmpo MIL 765 111.2 97.5 13.7
M. Gasol N. Powell TOR 515 110.3 97.5 12.8

Worst Offense

Player 1 Player 2 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
T. Young R. Arcidiacono CHI 428 94.2 99.1 -4.9
D. Schroder D. Bazley OKC 617 95.8 100.9 -5.1
D. Jordan G. Temple BKN 451 95.9 96.5 -0.6
A. Burks M. Chriss GSW 463 97.3 112 -14.7
K. Dunn C. White CHI 504 97.5 103.8 -6.3
S. Gilgeous-Alexander D. Bazley OKC 458 97.8 103.8 -5.9
O. Spellman J. Poole GSW 438 97.8 105.5 -7.7
J. Collins K. Huerter ATL 402 98 108.8 -10.9
G. Robinson III W. Cauley-Stein GSW 748 98.4 110.5 -12.1
R. Arcidiacono C. White CHI 537 98.5 99.8 -1.3
B. Portis K. Knox II NYK 523 98.5 106.5 -8
T. Ariza C. Joseph SAC 423 98.8 104.3 -5.5
T. Ross E. Fournier ORL 479 98.8 106.7 -7.8
G. Dieng A. Wiggins MIN 493 98.9 106.4 -7.5
L. Nance Jr. K. Porter Jr. CLE 470 99.4 108.5 -9.1

Worst Defense

Player 1 Player 2 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
B. Beal R. Hachimura WAS 678 110.8 124.2 -13.4
T. Bryant R. Hachimura WAS 414 110.5 123.2 -12.7
D. Jones T. Young ATL 477 109.3 122.1 -12.9
I. Thomas B. Beal WAS 632 111.9 121.4 -9.6
J. Parker T. Young ATL 656 111.1 120 -8.8
B. Beal T. Brown Jr. WAS 496 105.4 119.9 -14.5
I. Smith B. Beal WAS 652 112.4 119.2 -6.8
B. Beal T. Bryant WAS 560 110.9 118.5 -7.5
J. Parker D. Hunter ATL 554 111.2 118.1 -7
G. Robinson III E. Paschall GSW 607 102 117.5 -15.5
C. Osman C. Sexton CLE 1161 105 117.2 -12.2
T. Thompson C. Sexton CLE 1132 104.1 117.1 -13
K. Love C. Sexton CLE 1008 106.2 117 -10.8
B. Hield D. Fox SAC 637 108.7 116.8 -8.1
D. Bertans B. Beal WAS 655 119.3 116.6 2.7
C. Sexton D. Garland CLE 992 104.6 116.4 -11.9

Trios

Best Overall

The NBAs Top Trios

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
C. Paul D. Schroder S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC 311 126.9 97.6 29.3
C. Paul D. Gallinari D. Schroder OKC 345 123.5 100.7 22.9
C. Paul D. Schroder S. Adams OKC 355 114.9 94.4 20.5
R. Gobert J. Ingles R. O’Neale UTA 655 118.2 98.1 20
J. Ingles R. O’Neale D. Mitchell UTA 467 119.2 99.5 19.7
W. Matthews E. Bledsoe G. Antetokounmpo MIL 524 113.7 94.5 19.2
B. Bogdanovic J. Ingles R. O’Neale UTA 628 118.9 99.8 19.1
B. Lopez G. Antetokounmpo D. DiVincenzo MIL 330 117.6 99.2 18.5
E. Bledsoe K. Middleton G. Antetokounmpo MIL 437 112.6 94.5 18.1
B. Bogdanovic R. Gobert J. Ingles UTA 811 116.3 98.5 17.8
D. Gallinari D. Schroder S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC 456 119.1 101.3 17.8
R. Gobert R. O’Neale D. Mitchell UTA 806 117.1 99.6 17.5
L. Williams K. Leonard M. Harrell LAC 391 114.5 97.2 17.4
D. Schroder S. Adams S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC 338 114.1 97.4 16.7
T. Hardaway Jr. M. Kleber L. Doncic DAL 312 120 104 16

Best Offense

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
C. Paul D. Schroder S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC 311 126.9 97.6 29.3
C. Paul D. Gallinari D. Schroder OKC 345 123.5 100.7 22.9
T. Hardaway Jr. D. Finney-Smith L. Doncic DAL 547 121.9 106.6 15.3
T. Hardaway Jr. D. Powell L. Doncic DAL 457 121.6 106 15.6
D. Powell D. Finney-Smith L. Doncic DAL 590 120.4 111 9.4
T. Hardaway Jr. M. Kleber L. Doncic DAL 312 120 104 16
G. Hayward K. Walker J. Brown BOS 310 119.8 110.3 9.6
T. Hardaway Jr. D. Powell D. Finney-Smith DAL 457 119.4 105.2 14.2
J. Ingles R. O’Neale D. Mitchell UTA 467 119.2 99.5 19.7
T. Hardaway Jr. K. Porzingis L. Doncic DAL 414 119.2 105.9 13.3
D. Gallinari D. Schroder S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC 456 119.1 101.3 17.8
B. Bogdanovic J. Ingles R. O’Neale UTA 628 118.9 99.8 19.1
R. Gobert J. Ingles R. O’Neale UTA 655 118.2 98.1 20
I. Smith D. Bertans B. Beal WAS 367 118.2 114.4 3.8
G. Hayward K. Walker J. Tatum BOS 391 117.9 103.8 14.1

Best Defense

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 TEAM MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
B. Lopez E. Bledsoe K. Middleton MIL 446 108.5 93.6 14.9
B. Lopez K. Middleton G. Antetokounmpo MIL 510 109.8 94 15.8
C. Paul D. Schroder S. Adams OKC 355 114.9 94.4 20.5
W. Matthews E. Bledsoe G. Antetokounmpo MIL 524 113.7 94.5 19.2
E. Bledsoe K. Middleton G. Antetokounmpo MIL 437 112.6 94.5 18.1
W. Matthews K. Middleton G. Antetokounmpo MIL 444 106.6 94.7 11.9
W. Matthews E. Bledsoe K. Middleton MIL 388 109.8 94.9 14.8
R. Westbrook J. Harden B. McLemore HOU 324 111.3 95.5 15.8
R. Gay P. Mills J. Poeltl SAS 341 110.6 95.7 14.9
A. Horford B. Simmons M. Thybulle PHI 418 103.5 95.7 7.8
B. Lopez E. Bledsoe G. Antetokounmpo MIL 561 110.9 95.9 15
B. Lopez W. Matthews K. Middleton MIL 512 106.7 95.9 10.8
B. Lopez W. Matthews E. Bledsoe MIL 548 111.7 96.7 15
B. Lopez W. Matthews G. Antetokounmpo MIL 594 110 96.9 13.1
A. Horford T. Harris M. Thybulle PHI 411 104.2 96.9 7.3

Bonus

One final thing I stumbled upon and wanted to share - the NBA Advanced Stats website has a very cool tool which creates single-axis bubble charts of all of each team’s lineup combinations. I highly recommend everyone check it out for cool charts like the one below!

Two Player Lineups