On NBA teams, there is often a star player who helps their team win games, and puts up awesome stats. But, when that star player gets hurt or has a bad night, the team’s second best player usually ends up having a great game. Today, I’m ranking the 30 best second options in the NBA. Some options are a lot worse than others, but oftentimes, second options are All-Stars or near All-Stars. Since there are a lot of players and teams to go through, I’m going to break this up into three different parts. Part 1 covers #30-#20, and if you want to see Part 2, make sure to like and follow this blog. With that, let’s get into it.
Disclaimer: This blog is my opinion, and my opinion only
#30: Oklahoma City Thunder with Al Horford
The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have a great start to the season, which was expected by just about everyone, myself included. With Sam Presti trading away every living thing that isn’t a rookie for draft picks, the Thunder’s top player is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, with their second option being Al Horford. Losing Dennis Schroder really hurt the team in free agency, and now, without a very competent roster, their second option is averaging nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Horford was an incredible power forward in his prime, even an All-Star for a couple of years, but it seems as if his play is starting to decline, and he will more likely than not retire in a few years.
#29: San Antonio Spurs with LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge’s situation is quite similar to Al Horford, with only a couple of differences. The first is that he has a much better supporting cast around him and DeMar DeRozan, with players such as Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray, and Gregg Popovich on the sideline. Averaging 12, four, and two isn’t super impressive, and he’s 35 years old. Not much else to say here.
#28: Golden State Warriors with James Wiseman
James Wiseman has been very impressive in his first few games as a pro. With neither Anthony Edwards nor Lamelo Ball starting, Wiseman has made a very convincing case so far for why he should be Rookie of the Year in 2021. He’s averaging a very solid 41% from the three-point line, along with 11 points and six rebounds a game. He’s only going to improve as he gets more playing time, more pick & rolls from Steph Curry, and more advice on how to kick people in the nuts from Draymond Green.
#27: Sacramento Kings with Buddy Hield
Marvin Bagley, Jr could have been the Kings second option, but I’m sticking with Buddy Hield on this one, as he’s been in the league for longer, he’s entering his prime, and he won the three-point contest last year. This season, he’s not doing super well. He’s averaging around 16, four, and two in the backcourt with De’Aaron Fox. The Kings, as of the writing of this blog, hold the #9 seed in the Western Conference, which is a shame. Kings fans had hoped that the guards would elevate each other’s and Marvin Bagley’s level of play, which unfortunately hasn’t happened. De’Aaron Fox might be an All-Star this year, but Buddy Hield will almost certainly not. He really needs to step up his game.
#26: Orlando Magic with Evan Fournier
I originally had Fournier ranked a lot higher, but after looking deeper into the statistics, I just couldn’t keep him where he was. As arguably the second option on the Orlando Magic (Terrence Ross or Markelle Fultz depending on how you look at it) behind Nikola Vucevic, Fournier is averaging 15, two, and two. While he isn’t averaging superb stats, he’s helped the Orlando Magic climb to the top of the Eastern Conference standings to start this year. Fournier is 28 years old, and similar to Buddy Hield, he is coming into or is in his prime. If I were the Magic, and Fournier isn’t preforming to the level he’s supposed to, I would trade him for a power forward, since the Magic have way too many guards.
#25: Detroit Pistons with Derrick Rose
(sorry I made this one bigger then normal but it’s such a great picture)
Derrick Rose is, in my opinion, the second option on the Detroit Pistons after Blake Griffin. He’s averaging 16, six, and three, which are above average numbers for a starting point guard, but not that special. Detroit has not exactly gotten off to a stellar start this season, and is lacking roster depth. Rose might end up higher on this list later on because he is simply forced to play longer and better. Or of course, he could be usurped by Pistons rookie Killian Hayes.
#24: New York Knicks with RJ Barrett
It was difficult to truly decide who the Knicks’ second go-to player is. Julius Randle is definitely their best player, but it could have been Kevin Knox, Alonzo Trier, or Mitchell Robinson. At this point in time, however, I’m going to give it to RJ Barrett. I originally had RJ ranked at #30, but I realized that this was just bias against the Knicks because they’re often so bad. RJ Barrett deserves this spot over Hield, Rose, and more. The Knicks are the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference right now, and have a record above .500! Hooray! In addition, RJ Barrett is averaging 18.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game! Double Hooray! And… he’s shooting 40% from the field, 23% from three, and around 78% from the free throw line. Not a Hooray. However, there are a lot of bright sides to RJ and his game right now, so Knicks fans, enjoy it while you have it.
#23: Indiana Pacers with Myles Turner
Myles Turner is currently one of the best defensive presences to have in your paint, leading the league in blocks per game. He also averaged near two steals per game to start the season. Turner isn’t the best offensive player, averaging roughly 13 points per game, but his defense is helpful in almost any presence. With the scoring of Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon, Turner doesn’t need to score as much to help his team.
#22: Charlotte Hornets with Terry Rozier
This season has by far been the best of Terry Rozier’s young career. In Boston, Terry Rozier was a sixth man, and didn’t get the playing time he deserved playing behind Kyrie Irving. In his first season in Charlotte, he averaged 18, four, and four. But this year, Scary Terry has taken his game to a whole other level. He dropped his career high in points, with 42. He posterized Kevin Durant on an and-one, and he’s in the middle of a stretch where he’s averaging 22 points per game on 48% shooting from the field and 45% shooting from three! Like RJ Barrett, I had him ranked a lot lower originally, but after taking a deeper dive, this man deserves a lot of credit that we aren’t giving to him! He might just be in contention for Most Improved Player this year.
#21: Chicago Bulls with Lauri Markkanen
As great as Terry Rozier is, I still don’t think he’s a better second option than Lauri Markkanen. Nearly an All-Star in my opinion, Markkanen is the second option for the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately, they are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Markkanen averages a solid 17 and seven, but does so on 50% shooting and 48% from three. When drafted, he was compared to Dirk Nowitzki, because he was tall, European, and could shoot lights out. What hurts Markkanen from ranking higher is his team’s performance, his personal stats, and the fact that he is currently injured. I really do believe in him, and think he could be an All-Star in the next year or two if he puts in the work.
#20: Atlanta Hawks with John Collins
Collins is in the same position as Markkanen. He averages 17 and seven, but is in the perfect system in Atlanta where he can pick and roll with Trae Young, all the while throwing down monster dunks and dominating the boards. Collins’ stellar play has helped lead Atlanta to a top seed in the Eastern Conference since the start the season. Like Markkanen, he could also be an All-Star in the next year or two if he puts in the work.
Did I rank anyone too high or too low? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, have an awesome day!
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Credit to the NBA for pictures