7 NBA Stars in Need of a Dynamic Sidekick to Flourish
Despite the attention that we lavish on the No. 1 guys on teams, each winning roster is made up of more than just one player. There are many No. 1 players in the NBA in major need of a sidekick.
No big-time player has ever won a championship by himself. Although it is claimed that Michael Jordan did it, Scottie Pippen was no scrub. He was only one of the best perimeter defenders in the game at the time. Magic Johnson needed James Worthy and an aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Larry Bird needed Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
Since Jordan, the sport of basketball has come under a huge misconception that a superstar wins games alone. Basketball is a team game, and no superstar has ever won by himself. Not even LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were able to win a title on their own. Together, they won a title in just two years and probably should have two titles by now.
There are many superstar-caliber players who need that dynamic sidekick to flourish. Pippen was not as good as Jordan, but he complemented him well. That is what the players on this list need: a dynamic teammate that can bring energy and improve the team without infringing upon their superstar teammate's game.
Dwight Howard has never won an NBA title, and the reason is that he never had a decent sidekick to help him out. Despite making it to the NBA Finals in 2009, Howard was unable to win. Hedo Turkoglu played extremely well during that run, but he has shown himself to be unable to do so in the years since.
The Orlando Magic have primarily consisted of Howard and a bunch of three-point shooters the past few seasons. They have completely lacked a perimeter player who can score for himself or really do much of anything but chunk up jump shots. In order for Howard to ever be successful, he must find another player who can bring something more dynamic to the table.
Depending on where Howard ends up, he could end up being a sidekick himself to Kobe Bryant or Deron Williams. He would make a good one, especially considering his limited offensive abilities. It may be that he is not enough of a leader to be the No. 1 guy.
In case you do not think that LaMarcus Aldridge warrants inclusion on this list, let me remind you that he averaged 21.7 points, eight rebounds and nearly a block per game for the Portland Trail Blazers last season. He also shot 51 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free-throw line. He put himself in the conversation with Kevin Love and Blake Griffin as the most talented power forward in the NBA.
However, his team was a mess last season, and he did not have anyone else he could depend on. Former coach Nate McMillan was fired halfway through the season. New additions Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton really struggled to fit. The lockout-shortened offseason obviously did not help these issues.
With Felton, Crawford and Gerald Wallace gone, Aldridge will need to find a solid sidekick amongst the players remaining. The two most likely candidates are probably small forward Nicolas Batum and rookie point guard Damian Lillard. The Blazers must build on those three players, along with rookie center Meyers Leonard. No matter who it ends up being, Aldridge needs someone to start making plays other than him if Portland is ever going to start winning again.
In his first full season without Chauncey Billups or Carmelo Anthony, Ty Lawson showed himself to be the star to build around on the Denver Nuggets roster. The former North Carolina Tar Heel averaged 16.6 points and 6.6 assists per game, leading the Nuggets to the playoffs and pushing the Los Angeles Lakers to a long first-round series.
He needs another player to step up if he is going to be able to lead the Nuggets any farther than that. The team itself is a balanced one, full of good young players. However, it lacks that other go-to guy that can step up in big situations.
Danilo Gallinari, Arron Afflalo, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee are possible candidates for this position. The main thing for Nuggets fans is to wait. One of these young players will separate themselves as a star in time.
The New York Knicks have become a spectacle in recent years, consisting of big contracts and underwhelming play on the court. Carmelo Anthony was brought in to change that, but he has been unable to thus far. If the Knicks cannot find a consistent sidekick to complement him on the floor, the Knicks will not achieve anything more than a first-round playoff exit in any of the years to come.
Anthony is still an elite player in the NBA, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He averaged 22.6 points per game in what was a bit of a down year for him individually last season. The fact that it was a down year just shows how good he really is. Granted, he does have issues with his intensity, especially defensively and with rebounding. However, those will come if he has a good sidekick helping him out.
Tyson Chandler is a great player to have on your roster, but he is not the type of sidekick Anthony needs. Amar'e Stoudemire could have been that player for this team, but he appears unable to play well with Anthony. Jeremy Lin is gone now, so it will have to be someone else. No matter who it is, that role must be filled or the Knicks will not start seriously contending.
Derrick Rose is a great player. He has taken the Chicago Bulls from being a franchise that was still in Michael Jordan's shadow to an entirely new era. However, the team has failed when it comes to winning or even reaching the NBA Finals. The reason for this is the lack of a sidekick for Rose.
The Bulls' inability to find consistent play from the shooting guard position has been well-documented, and there are multiple players who have tried to be the consistent second option to Rose. Richard Hamilton tried to fill the hole in the backcourt next to him last season. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah all have tried to help out as well.
However, none of them have been able to make much of a difference when it comes to defeating the Miami Heat. It is not fair to the Bulls or Rose, but that is the measuring stick for them. The Heat are an elite team and are not going away. If Chicago wants to ever overcome them, it must find someone who can help Rose in big moments.
The Dallas Mavericks were a shell of their former selves last season, and they will be made up of completely different selves next season with one big exception. Dirk Nowitzki is still there, and he still is one of the best scoring big men in the NBA. However, he must have a sidekick if he wants to have any hope of winning another NBA title in Dallas.
Nowitzki showed himself to be unstoppable in the title run he led a little over a year ago, but defenses will be able to collapse on him without another player who is able to efficiently play second fiddle. The Mavericks need the balance that another dynamic player would bring.
Jason Terry filled that role for Dallas for many years, but he is now gone and the role will likely fall to new addition O.J. Mayo. Whether or not Mayo can do that effectively while complementing Nowitzki is to be seen. Darren Collison and Chris Kaman are also new additions that could fill that role for next season.
For a year and a half, Deron Williams has been alone in New Jersey. Now that he and his team are moving to Brooklyn, he needs a dynamic sidekick to be successful and win. In Utah, Williams had Carlos Boozer and was able to have success there in Jerry Sloan's system.
The Nets have added a couple of sidekicks for Williams in Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. Neither of them is a player that gets fans super excited like Dwight Howard would have, but both are very good players who should complement Williams' style of play. There are no excuses for Williams now. He has a much better supporting cast. The Nets must win now, or it will be on his head.