8. Miami Heat – Kendrick Nunn and Jimmy Butler
Combined average: 36.4 PPG, 9.9 APG, 9.7 RPG
Most people expected the Miami Heat to be good this season, but few expected them to be this good. After splitting time with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadephia 76ers last season, Jimmy Butler is having a career year in Miami. His season averages of 6.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game are both career highs for a season and he’s tallying those numbers while also putting up 20.3 points per game.
In his rookie year, 24-year-old Kendrick Nunn is contributing 16 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Nunn has been one of the most impressive rookies this season, which recently earned him a spot on Team USA’s roster in this year’s Rising Stars game.
The Miami Heat currently boast a record of 33-15, in a virtual tie with the Boston Celtics for third in the East. While they have a six-game road trip coming up, four of those opponents are currently sitting below .500, so they should continue to march up the standings if their dynamic backcourt continues to play well.
7. Sacramento Kings – Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox
Combined average: 40.2 PPG, 10.2 APG, 9.3 RPG
Previous rank: 7
The Sacramento Kings are not having a good season, but little of that has to do with the play of Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox. The duo’s combined averages in points, assists and rebounds have all increased from last season.
Buddy Hield has been able to play in all 49 games for Sacramento so far, putting up averages of 20.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Expectations from Hield were certainly high going into the season, as the Kings signed him to a 4-year $86 million extension in October, which includes another possible $20 million in bonuses and incentives. Buddy currently leads the Kings in points per game and 3-pointers made while shooting 37.6 from downtown, which is second on the team behind Nemanja Bjelica.
De’Aaron Fox has missed 18 games this season with an ankle injury, however, has been effective in his 31 games. The third-year guard is putting up career-high season averages of 19.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game to go along with 7.1 assists and 1.6 steals.
If the Kings had a better all-around team, their backcourt would certainly be ranked higher. As it stands, we previously had the Kings’ backcourt as the seventh-best in the league and after 50 games, that still seems about right.
Next: Numbers 6 & 5