Today we’re finishing off the ranking every NBA team’s second option series. If you haven’t read the first two, read Part 1 and Part 2 before you read this one, as they give context into how the rankings work and previous rankings.
Disclaimer: This blog is my opinion, and my opinion only
#9: Utah Jazz with Rudy Gobert
A two-time Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Star, Rudy Gobert is the second option behind Donovan Mitchell on the Jazz. I ranked him ahead of Brandon Ingram in Part 2 of this series because while Ingram has a better offensive game and is more versatile, Gobert is arguably the best defender in the league, and can throw down monster dunks whenever necessary. If his range ever extends beyond 15 feet, then there will be no stopping him.
#8: Denver Nuggets with Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray showed the world how good he was during the 2020 NBA Playoffs and bubble, when he helped lead the Nuggets back from a 3-1 deficit twice against the Jazz and Clippers. Making it to the Western Conference Finals is something that the franchise hasn’t done in years. Murray went from averaging 19 points and five assists to averaging 26.5 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Behind Nikola Jokic as the second option, Murray proved how dominant he can be, and his future looks brighter than ever. He is almost averaging 20 points per game this season, and while the Nuggets are off to a slow start, they’ve proven they’re the master of comebacks.
#7: Minnesota Timberwolves with D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell is the second option for the Timberwolves, although while KAT is out because of COVID, Russell is technically the first option. However, I’m still keeping him here because when KAT is healthy, he is a beast. Russell has never averaged less than 13 points in a season, and only less than 20 points per game in his first three seasons. After bouncing around the Nets and Warriors, D’Angelo Russell has found a new home in Minnesota, alongside friend Karl Anthony-Towns. The Timberwolves have a long way to go in terms of their record, as they currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference. However, Russell is only 24 years old and isn’t even in his prime yet. I have him ranked ahead of Jamal Murray because Russell is the better scorer and historically a better passer. Russell is also an All-Star, while Murray has not yet been named to an All-Star team.
#6: Miami Heat with Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo is one of the best big men in the NBA, and one of the youngest. As the second option behind Jimmy Butler, Adebayo is already an All-Star and member of the All-Defensive Team, as well as having an NBA Finals appearance under his belt at just 23 years old! Last season he averaged a double-double on the best team in the Eastern Conference, and secured the Heat’s berth to the NBA Finals by blocking Jayson Tatum’s game winning dunk in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
#5: Boston Celtics with Jaylen Brown
I had a hard time deciding who the second option on the Celtics is. Kemba Walker would have been either the first or second option, but he missed the start of the season with an ankle injury, and in his first game back got injured again. It really comes down to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. I feel as though Brown has been playing better to start this season, but I just can’t say that Jayson Tatum is the second option, and he’s out because of COVID-19. So, in my humble opinion, the second option on the Boston Celtics is Jaylen Brown. He’s having a breakout season, averaging 25, 6, and 4 on 52% shooting. This is also his first year shooting over 40% from the three-point line. While the Celtics got massacred by the Knicks recently, the Celtics hold the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, which is a testament to the play of the Celtics, and Jaylen Brown. While Jaylen isn’t an All-Star yet, I have no doubt he will be this season. If he isn’t, then that’s as big a snub as the teammate of the next player on this list.
#4: Philadelphia 76ers with Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is the 2nd option on the Philadelphia 76ers behind Joel Embiid. He is currently averaging a near triple-double, but his scoring is down to 12 points per game, along with 9.3 rebounds and 8 assists. I have him ranked ahead of Jaylen Brown because he is an excellent all-around player and is a two-time All-Star. This season he has attempted a staggering five three- pointers, and actually made one of them! Ben Simmons hit a three-pointer! All jokes aside, he’s still an excellent player on one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and deserves to be #4 on this list.
#3: Washington Wizards with Russell Westbrook
At first, I had a tough time deciding whether Westbrook or Beal is the second option, but then, it suddenly became a lot more obvious to me. Westbrook is averaging a near triple-double (as always), but he has missed a lot of the beginning of the season with injuries, including to his quad and hand. Beal, on the other hand (no pun intended), has been averaging 35, 5, and 5, and doing his best to drag the Wizards to a .500 record. In one of their few wins this season, when Westbrook missed a three and didn’t get back on defense. On the other end, Bradley Beal was the one who found Thomas Bryant for the go-ahead dunk. Nonetheless, Westbrook is still the second best player on the Wizards, and is an All-Star and MVP.
#2: Los Angeles Lakers with Anthony Davis
AD is currently averaging about 22, 9, and 4. I still have him as the second option on the Lakers because I don’t believe he’s a better player than Lebron James…yet. Next year, or in two years if I make this blog again, Lebron could be on this list. Davis has that much potential and has entered his prime. He is a member of the All-NBA First Team and a champion, and while he is one of the best players in the league, I still don’t think he’s as good as the next player on this list.
#1: Brooklyn Nets with James Harden
I have James Harden as the #1 second option in the NBA. I know some die-hard Lakers fans will disagree with this, but Harden is simply a better player. Both he and Anthony Davis were All-NBA First Team members last year, but James Harden has led the league in scoring for the past three seasons, is the only player not named Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan to average over 36 points in a season. He also is an MVP, as well as the only player in NBA history to have a triple-double in his debut with another team. Harden is averaging 26.4 points, 10.9 assists, and 5.9 rebounds on 46% shooting while Davis is averaging 21.3 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 53% shooting. I rest my case.
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