The 2019 NBA offseason was all about forming duos, and the 2019-20 NBA season will all be about which pairs of elite players figure things out and perform the best. The idea of pairing off the best players in basketball made us think of an all-time classic video game: NBA Jam.
Like us, you're probably wondering what the 2020 edition of NBA Jam would look like. Well, the wait to figure that out is over. Below is our version of NBA Jam 2020 with each NBA team represented.
Trae Young and John Collins form a classic inside-out duo, though not one of the better ones in the league. A young combo that may be fantastic in a few editions of the game.
Kemba Walker brings quickness and scoring ability while Jayson Tatum can do a bit of everything. A solid squad but not the first choice of anyone outside Somerville.
Injuries don't impact video games! Kevin Durant and his virtual Achilles tendon will get to work with Kyrie Irving in our version of NBA Jam this year. Obviously this pairing is a powerhouse.
Miles Bridges and Cody Zeller would have been a killer combination in Big Ten Jam, but in this game they're a bit of a layup.
Now this is a fun pairing. Zach LaVine can shoot a bit, is athletic as heck and is one of our game's best dunkers. Meanwhile, Lauri Markkanen gets the nod over Wendell Carter Jr. because of his shooting ability. A hard-dunking guard and a big guy who can shoot is a great NBA Jam duo.
The Cavs are shaping up to be really bad, so their team in our game wasn't going to be great. Collin Sexton and Kevin Love will wind up being one of the first teams you face when you play the computer.
Young, skilled and very European, the Mavericks boast a great pair. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have all areas of the floor covered and both can shoot it from deep. Porzingis' size and high block rating will also give this duo an advantage at the rim when your opponent tries for a ridiculous dunk.
A classic inside-out duo, Nikola Jokic can handle paint duties and passes to the perimeter, while Jamal Murray takes on the responsibility of shooting and being a high-volume scorer.
Blake Griffin would have been a monster in the original game thanks to his dunking ability. Here he's paired with Reggie Jackson to create a middle-of-the-pack squad.
Golden State Warriors
The Splash Brothers! Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson form easily the best perimeter duo in our game. If you're one of those players that just pumps in 3-pointers on every offensive possession, this is obviously the team for you.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook may not work well together in real life, but they'd be a heck of a pairing in NBA Jam. Two fast, athletic, volume-scoring guards would be really tough to stop.
Victor Oladipo is another guy who would have been a really fun player in the original NBA Jam. Myles Turner is a solid big man given his ratings, but the Pacers aren't going to be a team players rush to use.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers spent a lot of money and assets to bring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George together and now they're an NBA Jam team. How Leonard and George will fit together on the court is still a question mark, but this is certainly a powerful duo in the game.
Los Angeles Lakers
Arguably the best duo in the NBA, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are formidable both on-court and in video game form. Both players can go inside and out, shoot well, and do work on the interior. This is the squad almost every first-time player is going to pick.
Another young, interesting pairing, Ja Morant and Justin Jackson Jr. have potential, but they haven't earned much in the way of ratings yet. If you're interested in a difficult road, this could be a fun team to pick given the balance these two have.
Jimmy Butler is a standout ratings-wise, but his best pairing on the Heat is Goran Dragic, who is a lackluster perimeter option. In our version of the game, Butler is likely going to be a pain in the ass to play against, but not worth picking.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in our version of the game and Khris Middleton makes a nice pairing for him. The Bucks should be really good this year, so it stands to reason Giannis and Middleton are a great duo in the game as well.
Maybe the most disappointing team on the list. Two former No. 1 overall picks team up to produce a wildly "meh" duo. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns have a few good ratings, but overall this is a letdown. Though they would probably be a tough out if the computer is using them.
New Orleans Pelicans
Yes, Zion Williamson is basically Shaq in the first edition of the game. A powerful dunking machine -- with intact knees -- who can absolutely wreck a game. Jrue Holiday is a solid guard to put next to a phenom like that, even if he won't blow anyone away. If you wanted to be play an absolute wrecking ball like Zion, you'd have to deal with a teammate not quite on his level.
New York Knicks
The Knicks are another team with a pair of younger players with upside but who aren't a great fit in the game. RJ Barrett and Julius Randle should have their moments on the court this year but they would be a cupcake in NBA Jam.
Oklahoma City Thunder
In the 90s, this would have been a classic inside-outside pairing. Steven Adams is a strong inside presence, while Chris Paul is a classic lightning-quick guard. Unfortunately, neither of these guys can shoot all too well, seriously hampering their status as an NBA Jam powerhouse.
Orlando's top two players form a mismatched pair for the purposes of this exercise. Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic are both skilled players in the paint and around the rim, but there's no real balance to this squad.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid paired together is a heck of a combo and Sixers fans get to see them on the court together a lot this year. This is a wildly skilled duo but a few gaps remain in their ability in NBA Jam. The biggest deficiency is shooting. But if you live for driving and hammering the paint, this might be your team.
The Suns boast Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, who could be on the verge of becoming the league's next dynamic duo. This young inside-out combo might have the highest upside of any pairing in the league.
Portland Trail Blazers
Do you like guards? Well Portland has the team for you. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum form the best guard duo outside of Curry and Thompson. Given the balance of their ratings, they could even give those two a run for their money.
De'Aaron Fox would have ruled in the original NBA Jam. He's so fast he could run circles around opposing guards while dishing out assists. Buddy Hield gets the nod over Marvin Bagley III as Fox's running buddy because of his elite ability beyond the 3-point line. This Kings team would be a fun alternative choice.
San Antonio Spurs
Three years ago the Spurs would have had one of the best teams in NBA Jam with this duo. Instead they've got two stars on the way down in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Those two are still solid together but just far less exciting than some other squads.
If we were doing this a few months ago, the Raptors would have been tough to beat, but with Leonard gone to LA, this team is a bit less appealing. Kyle Lowry is a solid all-around guard and Pascal Siakam is a rising young star with a great dunk rating.
The Jazz are a sneaky great choice in this game. Donovan Mitchell has great ratings for a guard, including high makes for speed, dunks and a solid 3-point mark. Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert is a monster on the interior as a rim protector and he can finish around the rim. These two will give the best duos in the game a run for their money.
Man, this is sad. A few years ago the combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal looked like a rising power. Now, we struggled not to put Thomas Bryant on the squad ahead of Wall. The Wizards boast two guards with solid ratings, but they fall far behind other similar duos.