Think about the greatest NBA teams of all time. The one thing they all have I common was at least one star, and perfect sidekick. Magic had Kareem, Jordan had Pippen, Shaq had Kobe.
And now more than ever, the NBA is all about star power and sidekicks. Without a superstar, your team simply has no shot at competing. Once a team gets one star, they must recruit one or even two more to truly compete for a title. If they fail, they end up the bottom of the league, spending money on role players and draft picks as the try and stay relevant. And while role players and rookies have their place, the only true guarantees are proven superstars.
Players in this day and age recognize this, and rumors of forming super teams are constantly floating around. Each star knows that they need a sidekick in order to win big. This trend has led to some of the greatest duos and trios of all time in the most recent generation of NBA ballers. The stars of this generation talk and team up more than ever before, creating an exciting new brand of star studded basketball.
In 2016, Steph Curry recruited his sidekick in Kevin Durant. And this offseason we’ve seen Russell Westbrook and James Harden bring in superstar sidekicks of their own. But for every star that has the ultimate wingman, there's another who's still looking for one. Below check out the 8 stars with a perfect sidekick and 7 who still need one
17 15. Perfect Sidekick: Russell Westbrook (Paul George)
Russell Westbrook had perhaps the best sidekick in the league. That is until Kevin Durant up and left to join his Western Conference foe, the Golden State Warriors. What Russell Westbrook was left with was a heap of NBA role players on a team just fighting to make the playoffs. Despite his MVP season, that is all they did.
But the Thunder recognized this, and did something about it. This offseason the Thunder got their guy, trading for top- 10 talent Paul George. George plays a game similar to Durant’s, with the ability to score and shoot, as well as play lockdown defense. Considering how tough the West is, the addition was a must in order to keep the Thunder in contention. George matches up perfectly with Westbrook and should lead them to being of the most dangerous duos in basketball.
16 14. Needs Sidekick: Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert has quietly become one of the best big men in the NBA. A defensive player of the year candidate in 2016, Gobert helped lead the Jazz to the No. 5 seed in the loaded Western conference. They appeared to be a piece away from truly competing. And then Gordon Hayward left, and Gobert was left with an average Jazz team that will be fighting for the 8 seed in the west.
Gobert is a rising star, and should help attract some talent to Utah. However, if he doesn't do so soon, he may soon find himself in a position where leaving Utah becomes his best option. The Jazz would be better off finding a sidekick for him now, ensuring that Gobert, like Hayward, is not tempted into leaving in free agency.
14 13. Perfect Sidekick: Stephen Curry (Kevin Durant)
Since the Warriors meteoric rise, Stephen Curry has had plenty of help at his side. Between Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and their many talented role players, the Warriors roster was loaded with talent. But the addition of Kevin Durant this past season was a game changer. Durant is leaps and bounds better and more consistent than sharpshooter Klay Thompson, providing Steph with the ultimate sidekick.
That duo led them to a title in 2017, and should produce more in the coming years. Durant is one of the best players in the world, and shoots the ball well to help the spacing that the Warriors so desperately covet. After leaving the Thunder in the offseason, Durant received all kinds of heat. In the end though, he and Steph had the last laugh, proving to be a perfect pair to terrorize opposing defenses.
13 12. Needs Sidekick: Kemba Walker
“Cardiac” Kemba Walker is one of the most entertaining players in the NBA. Coming out of UConn, he joined the Hornets and immediately made them a playoff contender in the weakened eastern conference. But thus far, that's all he's been able to do. Team president Michael Jordan has not given him much help in the form of stars.
Forward Nicolas Batum was a great get for the team, and the recently dealt for big man Dwight Howard. While this is enough to put them in the playoff picture, it still leaves them severely short of real contention. If the Hornets could attract one star wing or scoring big man to pair up with Kemba, this team could turn into a true threat in the east.
12 11. Perfect Sidekick Jimmy Butler (Karl Anthony-Towns)
When Dwayne Wade joined the Chicago Bulls, he was supposed to be Jimmy Butler’s new wingman. After a disappointing season and a first round playoff exit, however, it wasn’t to be. The Bulls unloaded Butler on draft night to former coach Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves. While this sucks for Wade, its a great move for Butler.
Young superstar Karl Anthony Towns averaged 25 points and 13 boards in just his second year! And while Jimmy was used to being a one man show, he now has KAT to help share the load. The two should form a phenomenal duo in the West, with Andrew Wiggins chipping in as the third option. But as far as sidekicks go, KAT on the hip of Jimmy Butler, now that could be deadly.
11 10. Needs Sidekick: Devin Booker
Devin Booker is just 20 years old. Devin Booker also scored 70 points in a single game last season. Generally speaking, those two things don’t correlate. Knowing that alone should be enough to tell you that Booker is going to be a star. Booker is in a good spot in Phoenix, too. Albeit in the Western Conference, the Suns are building some young talent around Booker.
In order to take the next step, they need get Booker a sidekick. A player like Eric Bledsoe is a good fit for Booker, but he is not the sidekick Booker needs. Booker needs another talented player in the backcourt or a frontcourt player capable of scoring. If they Sun’s could bring in such a player, like Demarcus Cousins, it could work.
10 9. Perfect Sidekick: LeBron James (Kyrie Irving)
When LeBron James left Miami, he also left behind two proven counterparts in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He knew exactly what he was doing though, immediately forming a new big three with Kevin Love and current sidekick Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is the ultimate playmaker. He has the ability to handle the ball, make big time shots and take the pressure off of LeBron. In a perfect world, this duo would stick together until LeBron decided that he was done in Cleveland.
But this is not a perfect world. And Kyrie Irving is reportedly looking to be dealt, immediately. Given this, we may quickly be seeing the end of one of the best batman and robin combos in the entire league, despite their seemingly perfect match on the court.
9 8. Needs Sidekick: Harrison Barnes
After winning and losing an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors, Harrison Barnes chose to take his talents elsewhere. While he fit in GS, Barnes was coming off of a dreadful individual postseason run and the Warriors were occupied with bringing in Kevin Durant.
It all worked out as Barnes landed in Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki and team owner Mark Cuban. In order for it to really pay off though, the Mavericks need to bring in another star with Barnes. Nowitzki is on the way out, and the Mavs are not going to compete in the West with their current roster. We don’t know about rookie Dennis Smith Jr. yet, but either way they will need a true sidekick for Barnes if they want to compete anytime soon.
8 7. Perfect Sidekick: John Wall (Bradley Beal)
John Wall is one of the most explosive guards in the NBA. And in the Eastern Conference, he has the ability to immediately compete for an Eastern Conference championship. In addition to a supporting cast of role players, he also needs a sidekick. Enter his partner in buckets, Bradley Beal. Beal is a sharpshooting combo guard that pairs up nicely with Wall. When he is healthy and on the court, these two are one of the most dangerous duos in the league.
Though they may not yet be able to compete for a title, an effective third wheel could be all they need. The Wizards already pushed themselves closer to the top in the 2016-17 season and might be a few pieces away from really competing in 17’-18’ One things for sure, the combo for success with Wall and Beal is already locked and loaded.
7 6. Needs Sidekick: Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin is not a happy camper. Just two years ago the clippers were a real threat to get out of the Western Conference. But their core never got over the hump, repeatedly coming up short in the playoffs. Now Chris Paul is gone, and blake has re upped with a brand new contract.
Since him leaving is now out of the question, the clippers need a star to team up with griffin. Deandre Jordan serves his purpose, but is never going to be a real superstar sidekick. Griffin needs a dynamic scoring guard or wing that can help carry them through the western playoffs. Maybe it's just me, but i don't think Danilo Gallinari alone is that guy. Without one, the clippers are going right back to the bottom of the league, where they lived for so long.
6 5. Perfect Sidekick: Kawhi Leonard (LaMarcus Aldridge)
When Tim Duncan got old, the Spurs needed a new man to fill the void. Kawhi Leonard was already becoming a star, so the Spurs needed someone to pair up alongside of him. In 2015, they got their man, signing stretch- four big man LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge works nicely next to Leonard because of his ability to stretch the floor. His ability to create his own shot at the four position makes him an easy substitute for the legendary Duncan.
This one- two punch is one of the most effective in the league, and annually competes for the Western Conference Championship. With the rest of the West bulking up their rosters, they will need to remain one of the best duos in order to have any shot at reach the NBA Finals again.
4 4. Needs Sidekick: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak plays just like his name would suggest. He's just 22 years old, entering his prime and looks to be a superstar in the making. The one thing missing is a team that can compete. Forwards Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker are good players. And rookie of the year guard Malcolm Brogdon was a nice surprise. But none of those guys can hold up the No. 2 spot on a championship contending team.
In order for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the bucks to take the next step, they are going to need another next step player. A scoring guard or a big man with shooting ability would be ideal for Jason Kidd's “zero position” roster compilation. That would allow them to continue playing the style of ball that has made them a tough Eastern Conference squad, but take that to a level that have yet to reach.
3 3. Perfect Sidekick: Isaiah Thomas (Gordon Hayward)
The 2016 Celtics managed to climb all the way to the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. After making through the first two rounds, however, they were unable to compete with the Cavaliers. The one thing holding them back was a true sidekick to superstar Isaiah Thomas. Al Horford is a great player. But he is not good enough to be the No. 2 player on a championship winning team.
This offseason the Celtics addressed that by signing small forward Gordon Hayward. Hayward has the ability to shoot and score consistently from the wing, a skill that the Celtics did not have prior to his arrival. For Thomas, too much was on his shoulders. If he was not on his game scoring the basketball, then the Celtics had a hard time competing. Hayward will be that sidekick to help him offensively and push them over the top in the East.
2 2. Needs Sidekick: Hassan Whiteside
In 2016, Whiteside had a number of interesting suitors as a free agent. Ultimately, he chose to re-sign with the Miami Heat and become their centerpiece. The Heat have some good young pieces, including Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic. But they don’t have any superstar talents to help Whiteside’s 17 point, 14 rebound per game averages.
The Heat play in the weaker Eastern Conference, so they should be chomping at the bit to recruit another star. With a sidekick for Whiteside, the Heat will be nearly an immediate contender in the East. Pairing Whiteside with a dynamic guard or a scoring wing would be ideal. And this could push them into the conversation with the Wizards and the Raptors as teams trying to contend. How about bringing D. Wade back to South Beach?
1 1. Perfect Sidekick: James Harden (Chris Paul)
People love to talk about what could have been if James Harden didn't leave Oklahoma City. But James decided to forge his own path, and it's worked. Harden has turned the Houston Rockets into an offensive powerhouse. Last season they pushed the Spurs to six games, but didn't have enough talent to get over the hump. What Harden needed was a sidekick.
This offseason he's gotten just that. The rockets signed point guard Chris Paul to help Harden maneuver his way through the Western Conference gauntlet. Though both are ball dominant players, they are equally intelligent and willing to play off of it. With perhaps the most dynamic backcourt in the NBA and a solid supporting cast, these two should make some noise in next years playoffs.
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