Ranking the NBA's Top Sidekicks

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIMarch 21, 2013

Ranking the NBA's Top Sidekicks

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    This list measures the NBA's top sidekicks by ranking each player based on his individual performance in 2012-13.

    Those highlighted truly embody the sidekick role this season. Despite elite-level production, they play second fiddle to the league's very best.

    To be clear, teammates with similar talent levels and comparable statistical outputs did not qualify. Duos like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker and Tim Duncan (just to name a few) were not considered, as it can be argued that each player is equally important to his respective team. 

    With that in mind, here are a handful of the league's best No. 2s. 

5. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks

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    Teammate: Carmelo Anthony

    Tyson Chandler provides a foundation of consistency for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. 

    While leading the NBA in field-goal percentage at 64.5 percent, Chandler is also accounting for 10.7 points and 11.0 rebounds on a nightly basis.

    Equipped with a championship pedigree, Chandler anchors an interior attack on both ends of the floor that has helped New York remain a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. 

    While it will ultimately be up to Anthony to carry the Knicks in a deep postseason run, expect Chandler—a first-time All-Star in 2013—to make his presence felt in the playoffs. 

4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Teammate: Chris Paul

    Since joining the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011, Chris Paul has helped bring out the best in Blake Griffin. 

    At the same time, Griffin has done his part to elevate expectations for the once lowly Clippers. 

    While shooting a career-high 55 percent from the field, Griffin has done much more than dunk his way to 18.5 points per night. He has added an array of low-post moves to his game while also collecting an average of 8.6 rebounds. 

    Paired with Paul, Griffin has helped lead Los Angeles to top-four seeding in the Western Conference. Running alongside the league's best point guard in the playoffs, a trip to the Conference Finals is not out of the question.

3. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Teammate: Kobe Bryant

    During the second half of the 2012-13 campaign specifically, Dwight Howard has provided an interior presence for Kobe Bryant that he hasn't had since playing alongside Shaquille O'Neal.

    Though his scoring average is down to just 16.4 points in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard is still leading the league in rebounding at 12.5 per contest. 

    Despite the Lakers' collective deficiencies, Howard has anchored a defensive attack has helped them climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture. 

    The attention Howard commands inside has also created enough space for Bryant to average 27.1 points on 46.8 percent from the field—the second-highest shooting percentage of his 17-year career.

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Teammate: Kevin Durant

    Russell Westbrook is one half of the NBA's highest-scoring tandem in 2012-13.

    At 23.4 points per night, he is combining with teammate Kevin Durant to average 51.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    His unique combination of speed and strength at the point guard position makes him a threat to attack the basket from any area of the floor. He is also using his underrated playmaking ability to dish out 7.5 assists per game in the process. 

    Westbrook has demonstrated more maturity in his co-starring role with Durant than he is often credited for, and I wouldn't be surprised if he helps lead the Thunder back to the NBA Finals in 2013.

1. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    Teammate: LeBron James

    Lost amidst all the LeBron James headlines is that Dwyane Wade is currently shooting better than ever from the field.

    Fueled by a career-high field-goal percentage of 52.1 percent, the 21.5 points  per game that Wade is scoring ranks eighth in the NBA. Wade is also posting a player efficiency rating of 24.55 that currently ranks sixth in the league. 

    While he might not play with the same explosiveness he did in 2006, Wade is still an elite-level superstar in every sense of the word.

    He has paired with James to help the Miami Heat ride the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, and is a primary reason why his team has a great shot at a second consecutive championship this summer.