NCAA Basketball: Top five dynamic duos in college basketball

Dec 7, 2016; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks with guard De’Aaron Fox (0) and guard Malik Monk (5) during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Valparaiso 87-63. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

What are the top five NCAA basketball dynamic duos so far during the 2016-17 season?

Freshman Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox had jaw dropping performances in Kentucky’s 103-100 victory over North Carolina in Vegas on Saturday evening.

Monk dropped 47 points on 18-of-28 shooting, including 8-of-12 from beyond the arc, and hit two clutch 3’s that sent Big Blue Nation into a frenzy in T-Mobile Arena. Meanwhile, Fox’s performance was overshadowed. He scored 24 points, dished out 10 assists, grabbed four rebounds and snagged two steals in 35 minutes. He only had two turnovers and made some unbelievable plays that left many of us shaking our heads at how lethal he is.

That had me thinking, is Monk and Fox the most dynamic duo in all of college basketball? And if they aren’t, who could possibly be better than them?

Also, is there any pairings that are on the cusp?

With that in mind, I decided to create a list of the top five duos in all of college basketball so far this season. There’s still plenty of time for your favorite candidates to enter the top five, but a month into the 2016-17 campaign, these are the pairings that I believe are tops in the nation. If you have any thoughts make sure to leave them in the comment section!

Nov 28, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Dwayne Bacon Jr. (4), forward Jonathan Isaac (1) defend Minnesota Gophers guard Dupree McBrayer (1) during the first period at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

5. Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac

Florida State, who is ranked 21st in the latest AP Poll, is currently 12-1 on the season with victories over Florida, Iona, Minnesota, George Washington and Illinois.

The main reason for their early season success is because of their top two scorers, sophomore Dwayne Bacon and freshman Jonathan Isaac.

Bacon is averaging 17.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting 49 percent from the field and 38 percent from long range. Isaac is the only other Florida State player who is averaging double figures in points (13.8). The five-star freshman is also grabbing 7.3 rebounds, snaring 1.4 steals and blocking 1.1 shots per game.

Bacon is a true “bucket getter,” as he can score from all three levels and has become a much better shooter from long range. While Isaac is still very raw, he is highly efficient and is very mature for his age.

Most importantly, Bacon and Isaac fit perfectly alongside one another. Because Bacon prefers to attack the rim, the spacing that his teammates can provide is critical. When Isaac slides in at the four position, this gives the Noles the chance to play four-out, creating better angles and opportunities for their sophomore star.

It’s fun to watch Bacon put the ball in the hoop with ease, while I also won’t complain about the pure athleticism of Isaac. If you haven’t seen FSU play yet, don’t wait until ACC play!

Dec 17, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays guard Maurice Watson Jr. (10) acknowledges the students after the game against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Creighton defeated Oral Roberts 66-65. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

4. Maurice Watson Jr., Marcus Foster

Maurice Watson Jr. and Marcus Foster aren’t just one of the best guard tandems in the nation, they are one of the best duos period.

Watson is averaging 13.1 points (2nd on the team), 9.2 assists (most in the country), 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He is shooting 48 percent from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc, while leading the 8th best offense in the country in terms of points.

The senior turned the Bluejays program around with his efforts in 2015-16, but has come back in his final campaign with a much improved game. Watson is now hitting mid-range and three point jumpers consistently, which creates a scary thought for upcoming opponents. Watson is already lethal in transition and can impact the game with every dribble of the basketball. Now he’s adding an outside shot to his arsenal?

Then there’s Foster, who is averaging a team best 18.2 points per game. He doesn’t have many assists or rebounds, but he’s shooting 51 percent from the field overall and 41 percent from beyond the arc. He is also a surprisingly good on-ball defender and has molded into a team-first player.

Like Bacon and Issac, Watson and Foster play off one another successfully. Watson is comfortable attacking when necessary, but also finds a lot of pride in dishing the basketball to his teammates. Foster isn’t much of a playmaker at this stage in his career, so having a true point guard like Watson alongside him makes everything easier for the wing player.

Dec 10, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) speaks with guard Grayson Allen (3) on the bench during the fourth quarter of a game against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at T-Mobile Arena. Duke won the game 94-45. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

3. Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen

They might not have the flashy game of some of the other players on this list, but Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen have been just as productive.

With Harry Giles still out (he returned tonight versus Tennessee State) and Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden missing a majority of the first month of the season, it was up to Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen to carry the load for the Blue Devils.

Coming into Monday night’s game against Tennessee State, Kennard and Allen are averaging a combined 37.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Kennard is shooting 52 percent from the field overall and 41 percent from downtown, while Allen is drilling 41 percent from the field overall and 37 percent from beyond the arc.

Kennard’s improvements have been remarkable to say the least. He has five games in which he has scored 20+ points and has been one of the main reasons Duke has stayed afloat despite lacking true depth.

Meanwhile, Allen has battled a nagging ankle injury, but still had a double double against Grand Canyon, dropped 24 in a win over Michigan State and crushed UNLV with 34 points. Allen was the preseason National Player of the Year favorite on many college basketball outlets. While he hasn’t lived up to those expectations yet, is there really a more dangerous scoring duo in the nation than Allen and Kennard?

Dec 17, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) fights for a loose ball with Davidson Wildcats forward Will Magarity (22) during the second half at Sprint Center. The Jayhawks won 89-71. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

2. Frank Mason III, Josh Jackson

Kansas has one of the most elite backcourts in the country due to the presence of Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham and Josh Jackson. But for the purpose of this exercise, the Jayhawks have a dynamic duo that is only topped by one tandem.

Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson are the team’s two leading scorers.

Mason averages 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and is always tough on the defensive end. On top of those numbers, Mason is shooting the ball with a high efficiency, 56 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc, setting himself up to be one of the top candidates for National Player of the Year.

The freshman, Jackson, began his college career with a clunker against the Indiana Hoosiers (nine points), but has since scored in double figures in every game that the Jayhawks have played. He is currently averaging 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, while looking like the most complete NBA prospect beyond Washington’s Markelle Fultz.

The stats are one thing, but the clutch gene that Mason has shown this season and the ability of Jackson to take over games in spurts makes this duo dangerous. Mason hit a fallaway dagger to beat the Duke Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden, but earlier in that second half, Jackson was dominating Coach K’s defense with his knack for getting the basket and finishing at the rim.

Graham could be included over Jackson because of his shot making ability, defensive prowess and experience. But Jackson has just been too good since he was shut down by OG Anunoby on opening night.

Sep 15, 2016; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard De Aaron Fox (0) and guard Malik Monk (5) during Kentucky media day at Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

1. Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox

Did you really think anyone else was going to earn this top slot?

I already spoke about Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox and their epic outings in Las Vegas on the first slide. But let’s just recap, the two freshman single handily defeated the Tar Heels. Sure, Isaiah Briscoe and “Bam” Adebayo chipped in their fair share of points and rebounds, but Monk was unconscious and Fox was making plays that you would only see from a healthy John Wall or Derrick Rose.

And it was a thing of beauty.

When Monk gets into a groove, he is almost unstoppable. He can score from all three levels, has taken good shots at the college level and isn’t afraid to make a big play in a big situation.

Monk is a terrific player and is definitely the better scorer of the two, but Fox is the better overall player. We already know he is lighting quick, has insane athleticism and cannot be stopped in transition, but against North Carolina, he was finishing everything at the rim and was throwing dimes to his teammates.

Fox has question marks regarding his jump shot and Monk has issues with his defense, however, there is no tandem that is more exciting to watch for two hours than this one. Trust me, it will be time well spent.

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