In basketball, the clear cut best players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James are considered the “Batman” of their team. That term implies that they’re just like the winged superhero: a good leader who can lead his allies to victory over any team. But Batman wouldn’t be Batman without Robin; a trusty sidekick who can take on a huge role in any given game. However, some “Robins” aka second-best players on certain teams could become Batmans given the opportunity.
The idea of a player’s numbers when having higher usage on a team with fewer stars is simple enough. Some second options could lead a team if they wanted to; it’s not like being slightly worse than the best players in the world, suddenly deprives Robins of their immense talent. These are some of the best players in the world who are viewed as the second-best player on their team but could easily thrive as a Batman on a different team.
5. Jaylen Brown
Amidst Jayson Tatum’s amazing year where he showed signs of becoming an elite superstar, Jaylen Brown quietly had a great breakout season. This season Brown averaged 20.7 PPG while shooting an excellent 38.2% from 3PT range. Jaylen Brown has all the makings of a future star, and one could only imagine his development if he was on a different team. Brown is still raw in some aspects of the game, but his rapid improvement is something to keep an eye on.
If Jaylen Brown wasn’t on the Celtics, he would have the opportunity for more touches and more individual stats. If he were on a team where the offense was mediocre, Brown could easily lead that team in scoring and be the main star on the wing. Brown’s situation with the Celtics puts him in a great position to win a championship though, and Brown has some very good chemistry with Jayson Tatum, leading to great play from both.
4. Jamal Murray
Jokic is the current undisputed main superstar on the Nuggets. The big man can pass, score, rebound, and handle the ball. Of course, all the attention is on Jokic. His co-star Murray has flown under the radar before but has received media attention due to his heroics in the bubble. Murray played a big part in the Nuggets’ two 3-1 comebacks, and his shot creation ability in the payoffs led a lot of people to become fans of his ridiculous scoring.
Murray could surely put up similar stats as someone like Russell Westbrook if he were the clear first option. Murray has the clutch factor and the shot creation to be able to play well in late-game situations, where one on one ability has the most value. Murray and Jokic could be a similar duo to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal; one could dominate inside for most of the game as a big man, while the guard could be a Robin until the end of the game, where shot-making would be essential.
3. Ben Simmons
It is well known that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid aren’t a perfect match in terms of playstyle. Simmons can’t space the floor at all, while Embiid is average from beyond the arc. Both have playstyles suited to dominating the ball; Simmons as a wizard playmaker and Embiid as a bruising big man in the post. Ben Simmons is considered a worse player than Embiid, but on a team with better spacing, he could blossom into a player that is extremely special.
Simmons is a very unique combination of athleticism, size, and playmaking ability. He is a bigger point guard who is in the mold of an athletic Magic Johnson, and with some development, he could still reach the height of his potential. While Embiid and Simmons will likely try to develop more chemistry to win a championship, it is interesting to wonder about a small ball lineup where Simmons is both the PG on the offensive end and the C on the defensive end. That would maximize his abilities, and make him a clear cut Batman.
2. Russell Westbrook
When Russell Westbrook was an MVP, he was known to have a Batman mentality, perhaps even too much of it. During his MVP year with OKC, Westbrook was known for having an extremely high usage rate while still carrying his team to the playoffs. That is nothing short of a Batman mentality. However, with his move to Houston, Westbrook took a backseat to James Harden, and let James Harden dominate. In a situation like his former OKC team, his playstyle could be different.
With Russell Westbrook being traded to the Wizards, the trade may allow him to rediscover his past dominant form. Russell Westbrook could perhaps dominate the touches in Washington, the same way John Wall used to. Westbrook could also help Beal by taking the majority of the playmaking duties and ball handling, letting Beal score more off-ball. Westbrook could take the reigns this upcoming year in Washington.
1. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the world. He won the title with the Lakers, after barely ever making the playoffs with the Pelicans. His time with the Pelicans was the epitome of a superstar with subpar teammates, trying to carry a franchise. Anthony Davis on the Lakers will be a different story. As LeBron James gets older, Davis will likely take the reins of the franchise. The Lakers have great management, and even as LeBron James gets older, it’s likely that the team around Davis will still be good.
Once Davis is the clear cut superstar on his team, the rest of the league should watch out. Davis had a tough time with the Pelicans because oftentimes his star teammates like DeMarcus Cousins were injured, and the rest of the team wasn’t good enough to make up that difference. On the Lakers, Davis has a great supporting roster even without LeBron James. As the older superstar ages even further, it is Davis that will make the move to become a Batman, and perhaps a better Batman than we’ve ever seen him be.