The Knicks have formed a killer one-two punch in Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, one that shares strengths with three other successful teams.

The NBA has evolved throughout its many eras. Greats have come and gone, the game has turned itself inside out, literally, and the ways teams win have changed. But one thing has remained tried and true, one formula that will never change: the tandem of a versatile big man and a bucket-getting guard. From Willis Reed and Clyde Frazier to Kobe and Shaq and everyone in between and everyone after, it’s been the magic recipe for success through the ages. As the Knicks hope to recreate a timeless formula with southpaws Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson at the helm, they can look to emulate some successful duos from around the NBA as they continue to build their chemistry in year two.

The Dynasty

Looking around the league today the most successful duos are built following this strategy. Look no further than the dynastic run of the Golden State Warriors. It goes without mentioning that Steph Curry is the face of a generation. He led his team to four championships in seven years. But, you’d be remiss if you left out the contributions of Draymond Green. Green is a polarizing player and for all his faults and controversy he has been the unquestioned heart and soul of the franchise during their dynasty. Green sets the tone for the Warriors in various ways, he’s an enforcer who doesn’t back down but has also been called upon to direct offense. 

The Warriors have continued to build their team around the strength of those two players and the results have shown it. Golden State has an offense that is always moving around, constant ball screens, cuts, and off-ball movements that keep defenses guessing while they create open shots. It greatly benefits Steph Curry’s quick trigger and Draymond Green’s ability to find the open man. 

It has resulted in building an unbelievable chemistry in their 11 years together. 

The Champs

Another duo that comes to mind is the newly minted NBA champion Denver Nuggets, headlined by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Jokic might be the best player in the world, an MVP and now Finals MVP, with a combination of finesse and IQ that has turned the Denver Nuggets into a juggernaut year in and year out.

Of course, he hasn’t been alone in that pursuit – he has had ample help from Murray, a stud combo guard with the ability to score at all three levels. He can shoot, drive, and create opportunities for himself and others resulting in an explosive offense that propelled the Nuggets to the top of the NBA mountain. Their chemistry on the court like Curry and Green is undeniable. Their Five-Out Motion offense centered around Nikola Jokic in the half-court has allowed the Nuggets to thrive in space. Since Jokic isn’t the fastest guy on the court, he sets up at the top key or the high post where can methodically survey the field and make the magic happen, usually resulting in an open drive or shot for Murray and vice versa. It’s probably the best two-man offense in the league.

The New Challenger

Possibly the greatest example of how the right combination can transform a team is the Sacramento Kings. Light The Beam!

The Kings became the best offensive team in the NBA basically overnight. After sending Tyrese Haliburton to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis to pair up with the flashy and explosive De’Aaron Fox, the Kings have skyrocketed to relevancy. It had been a long time coming since another dynamic big man/guard duo was gracing Sac Town with high-octane basketball á la Mike Bibby and Chris Webber.

Last season the Kings jumped 23 spots to the top offensive rating in the league after ranking 24th in the league in 2022. The King averaged a whopping 120.7 points per game last season, also tops in the league. With Sabonis’ added versatility the Kings also jumped in assists per game ending the season ranked third; compared to 2022 where they finished 22nd. After shedding Haliburton, an excellent player in his own right, who occupied the same space as Fox, they unclogged their offense and have reached their full potential adding Sabonis for a seamless operation on the court. Sabonis and Fox complement each other well because they are able to take the weight off each other’s shoulders on offense while occupying different areas of the court. 

The Knicks

Like Green, Jokic, and Sabonis, Randle acted as a point forward/center for the Knicks on top of being their main scorer before the arrival of Brunson. It was a taxing effort but Randle made do with what he had.

Brunson has relieved the pressure by filling an important role that had avoided the Knicks for the better part of a decade. Now with a year under their belt that returned better results than anyone had anticipated, the only thing to do is improve. With Randle’s skill set as an all-around big and Brunson’s elite scoring ability at the point guard position, the Knicks have the formula to thrive. The parallels of Randle’s versatility with the aforementioned bigs cannot be denied as he has solidified his place as one of the better scoring and passing big men in the NBA. Brunson’s ability to take over a game, especially in the playoffs, like the guards mentioned before him is also undeniable; he did it all season in New York and in Dallas to great success before that. The potential for a deadly combination in New York is more possible than ever as they prepare to enter the prime years of their careers.

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