Today's Scottie Pippen: The Five Best Second Options In The NBA Now
Scottie Pippen is mere hours away from being enshrined into an exclusive club. The Basketball Hall of Fame will open its doors to him on August 13, 2010. Joining Pippen are L.A. Laker owner Jerry Buss, Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson, and power forward great Karl Malone, among others.
Scottie is celebrated as one of the greatest, if not greatest second options to play. For those that do not get the reference, Pippen played along side Michael Jordan, making him the second best player on his team, or second option.
Even with MJ playing the role of master scorer, No. 33 put up some monster numbers in his time on the court, as well as being a ten consecutive All-Defense Team honoree.
Any club that has a second option that could put up 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists like Pippen did for most of his career, is a luxury, to say the least. The team concept has to be acknowledged if someone is to produce that well will playing second fiddle. It is also safe to say that most teams with two forces can or have won multiple NBA Championships, if kept together.
The NBA today sports a select few who could be the 'Robin' to their team's 'Batman.' Some are obvious, and some have already filled a similar role.
Here is a look at five guys who have been a solid second option, and others who will be an ultimate No. 2 that could help lead their team to a ring or two (or more).
5. Kevin Garnett- Boston Celtics
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Kevin Garnett will go down as one of the best power forwards in NBA history, and one of the true success stories to go straight to the NBA from high school. Garnett alone led the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals before stepping into his next role.
Once KG arrived in Boston via trade, he joined Paul Pierce's Boston Celtics, and helped them win their first title in decades.
Yes, players like Ray Allen helped lead the way, but Garnett was a presence in the paint that Boston had not had in years. He also was the mentor and leader for the Celts. You can argue that Garnett was the leader of that team, but Pierce wanted help on the team he had been with for so long, and he got it in the form of KG.
4. Manu Ginobili- San Antonio Spurs
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Tim Duncan is the giant in the paint, and Manu Ginobili is the speedster who made Duncan even better.
The San Antonio Spurs are the darlings when it comes to overseas picks and signings (see: Parker, Tony), and getting Ginobili was no exception.
Joining the Spurs in 2002, Manu lived up to the hype he had playing in his native Argentina, and won three rings alongside Tim Duncan, a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Ginobili's ability to shoot, drive and play above average defense has made him a staple in the lineup, when he is not injured. He has been a cog in the San Antonio roster, and has made his name while playing with one of Wake Forest's finest.
3. Pau Gasol- Los Angeles Lakers
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Pau Gasol was always on the cusp of greatness while wallowing with the Memphis Grizzlies, until the Lake Show stole him away.
It is hard to see Kobe Bryant winning his latest set of rings without the help of the much improved, mature Gasol. Playing with one of the best of all-time makes you better, and Gasol took his game to a new level in the last few years.
The Spaniard is now a threat for a strong double-double every night, and his defense has improved each year in Los Angeles. You can say one of his biggest issues included his lack of passion or fire. Sometimes getting a taste of winning changes who you are as a player.
Gasol helped take over games when Kobe was hurt, and should be considered one of the best "other" guys in the league today.
2. Russell Westbrook- Oklahoma City Thunder
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16 points, 6.6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.
Those are the career averages for point guard Russell Westbrook after only two seasons in the NBA.
Playing alongside Kevin Durant has opened up a player no one expected to see when Westbrook came out of UCLA. Of course, UCLA played a three-guard system, and Westbrook was forced to play off the ball, depleting his ability to run the show.
Durant and Westbrook have turned into the best young duo in the league, and recent memory. In two years together the tandem turned the Oklahoma City franchise from garbage to legit, and were the second stingiest team the Lakers faced on their way to winning the 2010 NBA Championship.
As O.K. City and the young nucleus grow, you can be sure to look at the obvious player (Durant), and the man helping him get the ball (Westbrook), and see an extremely bright future for this franchise.
1. LeBron James- Miami Heat
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It's the truth.
LeBron left "his" team in Cleveland to join Wade's team in Miami. Honestly, it is not the worst thing in the world. James will never be No. 1 on that team (unless Wade is hurt), he will never be the reason they won a championship, but he will be an amazing complement to Dwyane Wade.
The two have the ability to take over any game, and have on-court IQs that are hard to match today. Instead of being the scoring threat the Michael Jordan was, LBJ will be the inside and outside threat that Magic Johnson was.
Nothing to complain about there, if he has to be compared with someone.
James is young, relatively healthy, and in South Beach for six seasons. That is plenty of time to get established with Wade and Co., perform, and win.
There is a great chance that the new Miami Heat win multiple championships and compete for the best team ever. That is to be seen.
What is obvious now, though, is that LeBron is the best second option in the NBA today.