I love the notion and idea of a duo in the NBA. Yes you still need all 5 players on the court in unison but being able to lean on another player that you can depend to bring it at an elite level every night is something special. Neyo said it best “I’m a movement by myself, but I’m a force when we’re together” and that was makes a dynamic duo. It’s a combination of being great individually with great individual success but also the team dynamic success when you pull it together.
What’s the hardest duo to succeed in the NBA? Its when both players aren’t the biggest on the court in height, but can play big amongst the giants in the NBA. We seen Shaq and Kobe dominate, we seen Twin Towers like Tim Duncan and David Robinson dominate and from the wings, we seen MJ and Pippen, but how can 2 guards demonstrate dominance?
Isaiah Thomas,aka Zeke, was the 2nd overall pick in the 1981 draft. A young 20 year old pup from Indiana University, who had stardom written all over his face. In his first 4 years, he average 21 ppg and 10 assists per game. Coming off a Eastern Conf SemiFinals series where he and the Pistons lost 4-2 to the Boston Celtics, it was clear to Jack McCloskey (GM) and Chuk Daly a 2 way player was needed
In 1985 Draft, the Pistons took Joe Dumars from McNeese State University with the 18th pick. He started majority of his rookie season and once he got his feet wet, it was all set up for a potential great backcourt for years to come.
Individually, Zeke is one of the best PGs to ever play the game. During his time with Joe Dumars he averaged 20 points 9 assists, 2 steals and 4 rebounds per game. Although he made previous appearances, Zeke was an 8x All Star with JD as his teammate, a one-time All-NBA nod in 1986 and 2nd All-NBA in 1987.
Dumars was impressive individually as well, averaging 17 points 5 assists, 2 rebounds and was assigned the toughest matchup at the guard position, facing foes like MJ, Clyde and Mitch Richmond, etc. He was a 4-time All Star in consecutive years from 1990 through 1993. 4-time 1st All-Defense and one-time 2nd team all defense and ending up on All-NBA nods (two-time 3rd Team and one-time 2nd team)
We all know the Bad Boys story throughout the late 80s and early 90s but what separates them as the best backcourt duo was the ability to be the best player on the court on the biggest stage.
In 1989, they dismantled the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks without losing a game and with rising superstar, Michael Jordan on the horizon, the Pistons was able to beat them in 6. One year removed from losing to the Lakers in Game 7 due to Isiah Thomas not playing in 1988, this dynamic backcourt was able to sweep Magic and Kareem led Lakers, combining for 49 points per game and 13 assists. This tandem was able to to seek revenge vs LA. Joe Dumars was your Finals MVP (27 ppg and 6 apg) and being known for one of the best defensive players, he came away with the hardware, scoring the most points in the Finals.
The following season, the Pistons’ Finals MVP has arrived making 2nd Team All NBA and another 1st Team All-defense nod. What were the odds he could win the Bill Russell Award for the 2nd straight year? In 1990, the Pistons were able to handle the future of the 90 Teams like sweeping the Indiana Pacers, beating the New York Knicks in 5 and once again holding off Michael Jordan and the Bulls in 7.
Heading into the Finals vs the Portland Trailblazers, this duo once again showed up when it mattered the most. Another year averaging 48 combined points and 13 assists per game brought out another championship that was headed back to the city of Detroit. Joe Dumars in Game 3 went off with 33 points but that alone wasn’t enough to get him the Finals MVP trophy. Zeke, playing less minutes than his duo counterpart, poured in 28 a night with 7 assists and 5 rebounds, shooting 54% from the field and 69% from 3.
No backcourt duo will ever be able to pull off what these bad boys accomplished. Together, they accumulated a winning percentage of 59% through 9 years. Pulled off 7 straight playoff trips, 3 straight final appearances, 2 Eastern Conference Finals Appearance me a backcourt duo that, individually stand on their own, have a premier dominating run together that results in multiple championships and both bring home the NBA’s most pinnacle award, the Finals MVP