Ranking the NBA's 10 Best Sidekicks
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Sometimes it feels like the sidekicks don't get enough credit in superhero movies. There appears to be a lack of recognition for somebody that helps their superhero teammate reach their full potential.
The NBA is no different.
Not every team has a superstar, meaning not every team has a sidekick. Even that word "sidekick," it has a negative connotation to it.
It really shouldn't.
What would Batman be without Robin? Exactly, just another deep-voiced guy with a grappling hook that wears a cape.
Being a sidekick in this league means that you are second best on your team to that one guy. Pretty impressive when you consider how few people even make it to the big show. It's also not rare to see a former star as a sidekick. It is kind of the evolution of things.
The anticipation must be killing you, so let's get right into it.
Here's a look at the NBA's 10 best sidekicks.
10. David Lee, Golden State Warriors
Lee accepts his role and clearly does it well
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David Lee could be the most underrated player in the NBA, but he's more than good enough to make this list.
This is a hard one because it might not feel like the Golden State Warriors have a legitimate superstar, but I would disagree with that thought. Stephen Curry is their clear go-to guy and the leader of that organization.
That leaves Mr. Lee.
Lee is a threat to come away with a double-double on any given night. What separates him from most of the league's other power forwards, however, is his soft touch out to around 20 feet.
There's something about his left-handed motion that gives the basketball an extra little bounce to find its way into the hoop.
He'll continue to be an underrated player as he finishes out his career, but there's a good chance that he'll continue to put up big numbers.
That's what he's done his whole career.
9. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
Tyson Chandler has been incredible for the Knicks
The NBA is a league of roles. Most players come into the league with an idea of what that role might be and look to expand upon it. The key to that role is that the player needs to succeed in that specific job in order for them to stay employed. It is as cutthroat as that.
In Chandler’s case, he has three particular jobs: to defend, rebound and play with energy.
He succeeds in each of those areas and does it at a level that literally helps teams win without any proof of a good performance in a box score.
It is for that reason that he makes this list.
8. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
Just another day at the office for these two
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I don't like to usually give my personal stories in my articles, but I can't help but talk about something that took place with Zach Randolph.
So I live in Utah and the Portland Trail Blazers were playing the Utah Jazz in a game that took place about eight years ago. Nothing really special happened in the game, but the post-game commentary has stuck in my head ever since.
The commentators were discussing the game and one of them said he had a particularly interesting statistic for the viewers. He said that in the 48-minute game, Randolph managed to pass the ball one time.
The reason I brought this all up is to take a look at his maturation and growth. Sure, he's not averaging many assists, but that isn't the point of all of it.
Randolph was once a selfish player only looking to get his numbers. He's not about that anymore. It looks like he's enjoying being out there and winning, much different from his "me first" mentality that he previously had.
7. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Pierce might be slacking on his costume because Rajon Rondo clearly has his ready to go
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Rajon Rondo is now the superhero of the team. He puts up ridiculous numbers and can really do it all on the floor.
Pierce grabs the sidekick role because of what he's asked to do.
His knees look like they're falling apart when he runs, clearly displaying how he's lost quite a bit of his athleticism over the past few years. Still though, when the Celtics need that big shot, they aren't going to give the ball to anybody but Paul Pierce.
He's definitely not what he used to be, but there's still a place at the top of the importance list for Boston's all-time leading scorer.
6. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
This tandem will be back in action soon
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This is definitely the most unique situation on the list, but it deserves to have its place.
His 12.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 blocks are all career highs. On top of all that, he remains as Chicago's emotional leader has to account for an extra three or four wins every season.
Rose should be coming back shortly after the All-Star break. A 26-17 record should be looked at as one of the NBA's biggest success stories, and a majority of that success needs to be credited to what Noah does on a nightly basis.
If Rose stays healthy, then this could be a scary team come playoff time.
5. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Sometimes the superhero is smaller than the sidekick
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Here is a lesson for all the comic-book fans out there.
Even though it feels like superheroes are invincible and can't be beaten, one thing they can't defeat is aging. Everybody ends up getting older and slowing down.
Tim Duncan is a perfect example of this process.
Tony Parker has taken over his role as the head player, but Duncan still remains as one of the most deceptive and tricky players in the NBA.
His bank shot is still perfectly intact, he's rebounding at high rate this year and if you're really lucky, then you might even see a big-time dunk that shows that he remembers how to put people on posters.
It's impossible for Duncan to get back to where he was, but this season has proven that he's still crucial toward the San Antonio Spurs' success.
4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
It looks like Griffin is always ready for the next lob
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Even the greatest of superheroes have their kryptonite. That one thing that seems to be their Achilles' heel and holds them back from accomplishing all of their goals.
There is no question as to what he needs to improve on.
That being said, he still does multiple things well. His offensive production is incredible, despite his poor shooting ability. One of the greatest reasons for this has to be his leaping ability.
Griffin actually is the only sidekick on the list with a superpower. Saying that he's an amazing leaper is an understatement.
The man can straight-up fly.
3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
This is kind of a heroic shot
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Israel Gutierrez wrote an article for ESPN about the sacrifice Dwyane Wade has made in handing over the reins of the Miami Heat to LeBron James. Wade ultimately felt like it was the right decision for the franchise:
I just had some time to sit back and think a lot I just realized what we're playing for, and what I'm playing for.
LeBron is probably the most talented player we've seen in a while, but how good can we be? Are we going to be good if me and him are both scoring 27 a night? Yeah, we're gonna be good, but it would be too much, 'OK, it's your turn, now it's your turn.'
I wanted to give him the opportunity where he didn't have to think about that. It's kind of like I told him, 'Listen, I'll find my way. Don't worry about me. I'll be there. But you go out and be the player that we want you to be.'
That quote sums up how he's no longer "the guy" in Miami. By no means does that mean that he's a slouch, though.
Wade is still one of the league's best shooting guards and a vital piece to the Heat's puzzle.
LeBron wouldn't want to be playing next to anybody else.
2. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
See, everybody loves sidekicks
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The Los Angeles Lakers are in panic mode, but make no mistake about Howard.
He is still one of the most dominant players on both ends of the floor when healthy.
It's tough to find players that finish above the rim more than Howard. His post game is a little raw, but he can go over either shoulder and has a solid jump hook with both hands. He's also still an elite shot blocker that is putting up a respectable 2.5 blocks per game.
The Dwight Howard experiment has yet to produce much success for the Lakers, but that doesn't make him any less of a player.
He's just more of a sidekick than Superman.
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is the best sidekick in the NBA
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Was that really a surprise?
In this case, he's Kevin Durant's second-hand man.
The beautiful part about Westbrook is that he plays exactly like you would expect a sidekick to. His 8.3 assists per game prove that he has turned into quite the facilitator. Sure, his numbers are good, but he also brings a high level of energy and passion—sometimes even too much.
Which leads me to his biggest sidekick quality: he thinks that he is the superhero.
All you have to do is watch the Thunder play once and you'll see two players in blue and orange that are clearly better than everyone else.
You'll also probably notice that the taller one is the better player, but that there seems to be a question out of the Thunder's point guard on who the best player really is.
That is Russell Westbrook in a nutshell.
Despite his flaws, unbelievable athleticism and a growing level of talent remain, making him the best sidekick in the NBA.