We talk every day about some of the best players in the league, whether it’s LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, or whoever else. However, what isn’t discussed enough are those players’ supporting cast. No player in today’s NBA can carry a team on his own to win a championship. So this brings up an interesting discussion: who would be the NBA’s best Robin? Who’s a player who couldn’t lead his team to a championship as the best player on the team, but would be the ideal number two guy? Let’s take a look at some possible candidates.
Klay, in my eyes, is one of the NBA’s biggest mysteries. He has won multiple NBA championships already without being the go-to guy on the team, so he instantly has a great resume of being the best Robin. Klay is your ideal co-star player; he can get hot fast, while also making an impact on the defensive end, where coach Steve Kerr usually puts Klay on the opposing team’s best guard. There are times where Klay disappears in games, but then there are games where he scores 43 points on four dribbles. Does he benefit from a great system and playing with great players such as Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green? Or he is a legitimate star in this league? Could Klay be the best player on a team and lead his team to a championship? It’s hard to tell, but given that his contract is up this year, we may find our answer next season if he decides to bolt from Golden State.
Pacer fans may not be happy with this one, but I believe Oladipo could be a great Robin in this league. What he’s done with the Pacers has been great, and I know he doesn’t have the greatest supporting cast, but I don’t think Oladipo can be the best player on his team and win a championship. Not in today’s NBA, where there are multiple “super teams.” However, that being said, Oladipo would be another ideal player to be the second star on a championship-caliber team. Like Klay, Oladipo is a great defender, leading the league in steals per game a year ago. He’s not quite the lights-out shooter like Klay, but what he can do is create for himself. He’s a superior ball-handler, who even ran the point numerous times while playing for Indiana. When your star player has gone cold, it’s nice knowing you could rely on a guy like Oladipo to take the reins.
Jimmy is an intriguing player to consider. We’ve seen how he’s played as the lead guy in Chicago and Minnesota, but was never able to get over the hump. Then with the 76ers this year, he played well, but they still weren’t able to get over the hump with Butler not being relied on as the top option. So does that mean Jimmy isn’t a reliable Robin? Absolutely not. Butler is very similar to Oladipo, where he can make a big impact on the offensive end, and even if his shot isn’t falling, he can be a reliable force every night on the defensive end. Again, not as good of a three-point shooter as Klay, but he’s better at creating for himself, which is nice to have if your shot isn’t falling on some nights. Jimmy, along with Klay, is one of the many top-tier free agents this summer who could be in a different situation, so it will be interesting to see if a change of scenery for him will be enough for him to finally get over that hump.
Kyrie Irving is one of those guys who has a lot of talent, and he may have just enough talent to be the number one guy, but would probably be better off being the second star on a team. He won a championship with the Cavaliers led by LeBron James, but wasn’t able to go to the Finals as the big star on the Celtics. Granted he only played two years for them and was sidelined with injuries in the first season’s playoffs, but many have questioned his leadership ability. Kyrie was great as the Robin to the championship-winning Cavs, and even hit some big-time shots (including the one that won the series for them). He is most dangerous with the ball in his hands, something not typically associated with a Robin. He isn’t a threat defensively, but is probably the toughest to guard out of these candidates on the offensive end, creating a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
C.J. is one of those guys who might not quite be at the caliber of player of these other candidates, but after seeing what he’s done in these playoffs, he’s definitely inserted himself in the conversation. The Trail Blazers aren’t the most talented team, especially after losing their starting center Jusuf Nurkic to a season-ending injury. However, they dismantled the Thunder in the first round even after being considered the underdogs as the higher seed in the series, and defeated the Nuggets in seven games, who were the best team in the Western Conference for a majority of the regular season. Lillard has been stellar, but in games where he hasn’t quite played to his level, C.J. has done exactly what you’d want a Robin to do: step up. He carried his team to a couple of victories, including a 37-point performance in that game seven win against the Nuggets, where Lillard only scored 13. No, McCollum won’t be the guy you rely on night in and night out to be the best player on the team, but he is definitely a solid, reliable number two guy on a good team, and that’s exactly what a Robin is.
There are other players that come to mind that may be considered Robins, but I feel weren’t quite to caliber as these players. Kemba Walker has been the star in Charlotte ever since he arrived, but I don’t think his style of play would be ideal as a Robin (think of a lesser Kyrie). Draymond Green is another guy that came to mind, where he does a little bit of everything pretty well, as well as being a defensive anchor. However, if the star player of the team isn’t scoring, I don’t think Draymond is seen as a serious scoring threat, thus eliminating him as a good Robin. Guys like Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid could potentially be stellar Robins, but both are still quite young, and time will tell if they can be the star of their respective teams.
Personally, if I had to choose a guy to be the Robin of my squad, I’m leaning towards Jimmy Butler, though I would be thrilled to have any one of these guys as my second star. I feel that Jimmy’s balance as a scorer who can create for himself when my other star is slumping, as well as being a defensive force every night even when his shot isn’t falling makes him the ideal Robin candidate. Klay is a close second for me, and that may change if he decides to leave Golden State. Seeing him in a different environment could easily swing my vote.