With so many up-and-coming teams in this young NBA season, we've already seen our fair share of complete two-way squads. Be it newly assembled teams or championship organizations, there has been no shortage of two-way talent on display. As we segue into a full 82-game season for the first time since 2018-19, this has also been one of the most level playing fields in recent memory.
The offseason was filled with teams utilizing their cap space and reshuffling their rosters in the hopes of building a winning culture and competing for an NBA championship. Just over 20 games into the 2021-22 campaign, the results of that hard work from front offices are already being realized.
As we get deeper into another entertaining basketball season that's bound to be loaded with highlight reels on a nightly basis, let's take a look at six teams that have been the most dominant two-way units so far.
6. Miami Heat
After dedicating an entire offseason to revamping their roster and building a more cohesive two-way unit, the Heat have gotten back to their winning ways and climbed back into the elite of the Eastern Conference. With key new additions in Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker, the Heat have found the perfect veterans to mix with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro.
Less notable additions like Markieff Morris and Caleb Martin have paid major dividends, as have the re-signings of Dewayne Dedmon and Gabe Vincent. Max Strus' breakout performance at Summer League wasn't a fluke, either. The Heat's gritty defensive style mixed in with their multi-faceted offensive game plan has allowed them to re-establish their status as true title contenders.
Despite all the success they've had early on, the Heat will have to make some serious adjustments to their game plan and need even bigger contributions from Butler, Lowry and Herro as they'll be playing the next six weeks without Adebayo, who's sidelined with a thumb injury. In spite of all this, the Heat are still one of the most complete teams in the NBA. Were it not for the recent injury to Adebayo and their noticeable lack of size, they'd be even higher up on this list.
As a team that's been down in the dumps for several seasons, the Bulls made a full-on commitment this past summer to build a winning team around franchise stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, and it was a plan that worked to perfection. This came to fruition with a complete roster overhaul that consisted of free-agent signings and sign-and-trades involving DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Derrick Jones Jr. and Tony Bradley.
The Bulls have now successfully built a legitimate playoff team that has the potential to make a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals or maybe even the NBA Finals. This may be a bit premature considering how early into the NBA season it still is, but with a series of big wins already in the books, Chicago is definitely staking its claim as one of the best two-way squads in the league.
With their lethal mix of size, length and athleticism they've been able to score from all over the floor and lock down some of the most explosive offensive units in the league. Between LaVine and DeRozan being top-10 scorers, Caruso being a steal machine, and Ball upgrading the backcourt as an elite role player, the Bulls already have so much going for them and will only get better as the season progresses.
They're the reigning NBA champs and have gotten off to a slow start this season, but as they've started to get healthier and find their groove once again, the Bucks are slowly reminding the entire league why they might be favorites to repeat. Led by two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and All-Star forward Khris Middleton, the Bucks have showcased their championship pedigree and look primed for another title run this season.
Even though they'll be without Brook Lopez for a big part of the year, they've still been able to get key contributions from the rest of their supporting cast. If anything's true in this league it's that you can never underestimate the heart of a champion, and the Bucks have been locked in and ready to overtake their opponents on both ends of the floor during their recent hot streak.
3. Phoenix Suns
Fresh off an 18-game winning streak, the Suns have been an absolute force of nature this season and have not let up for a second in their quest to prove all the haters wrong and repeat as Western Conference champions. With Chris Paul looking to win a ring for the first time in his illustrious career and Devin Booker continuing to play at an All-Star level, the Suns have proven that they're the real deal and last year's deep postseason run was no fluke.
This has especially been true with DeAndre Ayton dominating in the paint and Mikal Bridges locking down some of the league's best players on the defensive end. In their relentless pursuit of an NBA championship, the Phoenix Suns have been an unstoppable rebel force that hasn't backed down on either end of the court.
Coming off two straight injury-plagued seasons where they missed the playoffs, the Warriors have bounced back with a vengeance and are eager to win another title. Stephen Curry has been playing MVP-caliber basketball and been one of the league's most efficient two-way guards, while Draymond Green has been dominant as an elite point-forward who's anchored their defense to perfection. Andrew Wiggins is playing the best basketball of his career for Golden State, too
Plus, with all-around great performances from their stellar supporting cast featuring Jordan Poole, Kevon Looney, Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica amd Gary Payton II, the Warriors been the most complete two-way team so far this season. They;ve also been doing all this without Klay Thompson and James Wiseman in their rotation.
So as we get deeper into the 2021-22 NBA season, the Warriors will only get deeper and even more dangerous than they've already been. As they inch closer to championship form, the Dubs will be looking to put the entire basketball world on notice and continue to remind us all why they're the best team in the league right now.
1. Utah Jazz
By far the most efficient team on this list with the second-best point differential in the league, the Utah Jazz have been an offensive juggernaut and defensive showstopper all season long. Led by Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have been playing lights out this season and won't be taking their foot off the accelerator anytime soon.
Their perfect balance of ball movement, 3-point shooting and smothering defense is what's allowed them to thrive this season and keep their opponents at bay. As they aim to make their first NBA Finals appearance since 1998 and win their first NBA title in franchise history, the Jazz have already shown they can run with the best of them this season, on a mission to overcome any obstacle standing in their way toward championship glory.