6. OKC Thunder – Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Combined average: 36.5 PPG, 9.8 APG, 11.3 RPG
After losing Paul George and trading away perhaps their best franchise player ever in Westbrook, it’s safe to say the Thunder have exceeded expectations this season. After winning seven of their last eight games, OKC is now seventh in the West with a record of 30-20.
At age 34, Chris Paul is still putting up All-Star numbers of 17.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game, along with 1.6 steals. His clutch play on both ends of the court has provided the young Thunder roster with leadership and belief that they can hang with the best of the best. Named an All-Star for the first time since 2015-16, Paul is shooting 47.7 from the field and 35.6 percent from downtown while turning the ball over just twice per game.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, now in his second season, is making a solid case for the NBA’s Most Improved Player. After averaging 10.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game in his rookie year, the Canadian guard has upped those numbers to 19.4, 3.2 and 6.2 in 35.5 minutes per game. SGA is currently leading the team in scoring and free throw attempts, which is a testament to the aggression he’s showing in his sophomore season.
The Thunder backcourt will be able to enjoy All-Star weekend in Chicago together, as CP3 will be playing in the main event while Shai will be on the World roster for the Rising Stars game.
5. Boston Celtics – Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker
Combined average: 42.4 PPG, 6.4 APG, 10.6 RPG
Previous rank: 6
The Boston Celtics have shown remarkable consistency this season, led by a three-headed snake of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. All three are averaging over 20 points per game, which has led the C’s to the third-best record in the East at 33-15.
While Jaylen Brown’s previous season-high average for points per game was 14.5, he’s bumped that way up to 20.4 this season to go along with 6.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals, which are also all career highs for a season. Brown is also shooting 49.7 percent from the field, which is the best he’s shot in his career.
Newly-acquired Kemba Walker is currently leading Boston in points per game with 22, while also pulling down four rebounds and dishing out five assists. His offensive box plus-minus of 5.2 is also miles above anyone else on the team, with the next player on the list being Gordon Hayward, with 1.8.
Any team that’s capable of having a 10-game winning streak early in the season is a force to be reckoned with, and the Celtics fit that category thanks to their talented backcourt.
Next: Numbers 4 & 3