NBA’s Dynamic Duos: Decoding On-Court Chemistry

NBA’s Dynamic Duos: Decoding On-Court Chemistry

The NBA is filled with dynamic duos. There have been plenty of stars who have played together over the years. However, developing chemistry isn't easy. Many of those star-studded duos have failed due to a lack of ability to play alongside one another.

Sometimes, players' games simply do not complement each other's. Other times, two players just have trouble developing any form of chemistry with one another. With that said, we have seen some duos work to perfection.

Today, using various data, we will be breaking down the top duos in the NBA this season and discovering which players feature the best on-court chemistry.

Example: Lakers' LeBron James, Anthony Davis

The Lakers have performed well in recent action following a slow start to the 2023-24 season. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have already won a championship together as well.

There are some surprising stats when looking at their performances together this season. James and Davis both hold offensive ratings of 113.59 while playing together, per fantasylabs.com.

James' offensive rating increases to a mark of 121.36 when Davis isn't on the court, though. When LeBron isn't on the court and Davis is, AD's offensive rating drops to 106.04.

LeBron's assist rate sits at 29.65 percent when Davis is on the court alongside him. Davis' is at 13.4 percent.

Surprisingly, James' assist rate increases to 35.16 when Davis isn't on the floor. Davis' also goes up when LeBron doesn't play, as he holds an 18.75 percent assist rate without LeBron.

These statistics don't necessarily indicate that LeBron and Davis don't play well together, but they do tell us that both players try to create more for the team while the other is on the bench.

Using RotoWire's NBA On/Off Court Stats, we discover that LeBron and Davis both have a plus-minus of 56 while on the court together in 2023-24. Davis' plus-minus drops to -51 when James isn't on the court, and LeBron's plus-minus is just 18 without Davis. James and Davis both help the Lakers more while they are both on the court. 

Plus-Minus Stats Around the League: Who are the NBA's Best Duos?

Sticking with plus-minus statistics, we created a table of some of the best NBA duos to see which ones stand above the rest.

Best NBA DuosPlus-minus While Both Stars Are on Court
1. Kawhi Leonard/Paul George, Clippers96
2. Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown, Celtics82
3. Joel Embiid/Tyrese Maxey, 76ers58
4. LeBron James/Anthony Davis, Lakers56
T5. Kevin Durant/Devin Booker, Suns30
T5. Jimmy Butler/Bam Adebayo, Heat30
6. Nikola Jokic/Jamal Murray, Nuggets23
7. Luka Doncic/Kyrie Irving, Mavs21
8. De'Aaron Fox/Domantas Sabonis, Kings17
9. Giannis Antetokounmpo/Damian Lillard, Bucks-17

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George lead the way. They have played together for a number of years now, but injuries have kept both players off the court at times.

It's clear that Leonard and George have chemistry with one another when they are both healthy though. The Clippers have endured their ups and downs overall, but Leonard and George's plus-minus numbers suggest that the future is bright (health permitting).

Tatum and Brown are an unsurprising pair to see on the table. Embiid and Maxey have also formed a dynamic duo in Philadelphia. We already discussed LeBron and Davis. Meanwhile, Booker and Durant are even with Butler and Adebayo. Both duos have produced positive (albeit far from elite) value in 2023-24. Doncic and Irving follow them, while Fox and Sabonis have also been positive from a plus-minus standpoint.

That leaves the duo that many thought would lead the Bucks to an elite season — Antetokounmpo and Lillard — sitting last on this table. Chemistry is important and it is clear that these two superstars are still adjusting to playing alongside one another.

With that being said, Milwaukee still holds a respectable 10-5 record this season. They should improve their plus-minus number as the season continues on.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joey Mistretta
Joey Mistretta is a sports media personality with experience in writing, reporting, radio, editing and more. He's from a small town in Southern California and graduated from Biola University in 2020.
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