Before the NBA season started, fans everywhere had their rankings of what the best duos in the NBA were. Now with the season in hiatus, all of the playoff contenders have their superstar and a second option to play off of him. Here I will be ranking the top ten second options in the NBA. Injured players will be excluded (i.e. Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson).
- Jamal Murray – PG for the Denver Nuggets
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – SG/PG for the Oklahoma City Thunder
- Kyle Lowry – PG for the Toronto Raptors
#10: Bam Adebayo – C/PF for the Miami Heat
A reason to why the Heat have been so successful this year is the emergence of Bam Adebayo. The former Kentucky big man is averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds a game this year. Adebayo fits as a big man playing alongside of Jimmy Butler as well. Bam gives Butler a pick-and-roll option, can run the floor and keep the pace with Butler, and both of which bring the energy defensively as Miami. With his emergence and Miami’s suprising success, Bam deserves to crack the top ten of second options.
#9: Khris Middleton – SF/SG for the Milwaukee Bucks
The level of season that Middleton has put together in Milwaukee is nothing short of spectacular. He was on pace to join the elite club of averaging 20+ points a game while shooting 50/40/90 over the span of a season. Middleton’s ability to space the floor around a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo makes him an elite level second option in the NBA. However there are some superstars that check in on the list ahead of him, so #9 is fit for Khris Middleton.
#8: Ben Simmons – PG for the Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia’s number one can be seen as up in the air between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but to me it is Embiid’s team, which means that Simmons is their ‘number two’. Let me tell you, Simmons is an elite level number two option. Even in the absence of a three point shot, Simmons can defend almost any position, and is a triple double threat every night. Few players are in that caliber of talent, but because of the absence of a shot and poor fit in Philly, Simmons checks in at #8.
#7: Kristaps Porzingis – PF/C for the Dallas Mavericks
When Porzingis broke onto the scene, it looked as if he would be a perennial All-NBA level big man. But injuries have hindered Porzi’s short career. Prior to the hiatus, Porzingis enjoyed one of his best seasons yet. Playing alongside Luka Dončić helped the big man find spacing and hit about 35% of the 3-pointers he took. On top of that, he averaged over two blocks a game. With his ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim, Porzingis is certainly one of the best second options in the league playing in Dallas.
#6: C.J. McCollum – SG for the Portland Trail Blazers
Just outside of the top five is C.J. McCollum. If you were to ask me last year, McCollum is probably in the top four. But two young guns and three elite talents lay ahead. However that does not detract from the Lehigh product, McCollum who is the model of efficiency out in Portland. Since his 2015-16 season, McCollum’s point per game average has not dipped below 20. Add in his 22.5 PPG this season and C.J. would be averaging 20+ for five straight seasons. Pretty solid for a ‘second option’.
#5: D’Angelo Russell – PG for the Minnesota Timberwolves
Coming in at number five and playing second fiddle to Karl-Anthony Towns up north in Minnesota is DLo. Russell has had a tad bit of a tumultous career, playing for four different teams so far in his six year career. DLo has shown he can be a top option during his time in Brooklyn. But after a short stint in Golden State, Russell got paired up with his friend, KAT. Russell has immense potential at the young age of 24, and it feels he can unlock it playing as the second option for the T’Wolves.
#4: Jayson Tatum – PF/SF for the Boston Celtics
There are plenty of options on the Celtics, that is what make them so special. But at the moment, I see Kemba Walker as the first option and Tatum as the second. No slight to Tatum either, as he is one of the best second options in the NBA at the young age of 22. But this year Tatum averaged 23.4 points and 7 rebounds per game. His defense improved as well. Tatum is one of the future stars in this league with out a doubt. However, as of right now he is going to play second fiddle to Kemba, which is okay, as he is a top five second option in the league.
#3: Paul George – SG/SF for the Los Angeles Clippers
When healthy, Paul George has shown us he can be a MVP candidate. But that is the issue, health. If George plays more than 65 games it would be tough to exclude him out of the top two when ranking second options in the league. But George only played 41 games out of the Clippers’ 63. As I said, on the court play is not an issue for George. Averaging 21 points a game and shooting almost 40% from behind the arc makes him a threat on the offensive side of the ball. Pair that with his 4x All NBA Defense talent and you get one of the best second options in the NBA.
#2: Russell Westbrook – PG for the Houston Rockets
Getting moved to Houston to play with James Harden immediately made Westbrook the second option. As crazy as it sounds to call a former MVP is a number two option, playing with a ball dominant player like Harden makes him an excellent second option for the Rockets. He may have started off the season slow, but Westbrook is now up to 27.5 points a game, 8 rebounds per game, and 7 assists per game, which is on par with his career averages. On top of his impressive stat line, Westbrook defends with a high motor and simply outworks his opponents on a night-to-night basis. Russ gets the #2 spot here.
#1: Anthony Davis – PF/C for the Los Angeles Lakers
Calling Davis a second option may not seem fair as he is averaging 26.7 points per game along with 9.4 rebounds per game. But playing with LeBron James can make any superstar a second option. AD has proved to be a perfect complement to LeBron as they are both dominant in the pick and roll game. The #1 spot was never up for debate as a player of Davis’s caliber can be seen as a second option in LA.
As I mentioned throughout, the term ‘second option’ can be used loosely. For most of these guys, if they were in a different situation, they would be the superstar first option. But how the NBA is currently situated, this is my top ten second options.
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