NBA Power Rankings: Ranking Would-Be 3-on-3 Squads for Each Team

Michael DulkaContributor IAugust 15, 2012

NBA Power Rankings: Ranking Would-Be 3-on-3 Squads for Each Team

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    A three-on-three basketball tournament could be coming to the Olympics for the 2016 Olympic Games. According to a USA Today report, FIBA is proposing to add the event as soon as possible. 

    Since that proposal was made public, Bleacher Report's NBA Lead Blogger, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, wrote a great article discussing who would make the Team USA three-on-three team.

    While a three-on-three tournament at the Olympic Games would be excellent entertainment, the idea of an NBA three-on-three tournament is even more mouth-watering. 

    The idea is to create a three-on-three team from each NBA team. The idea isn't simply to take the best three players on each team, but pick three players that could play together in the three-on-three setting, which is quite different from full-court, 10-player basketball.

30. Orlando Magic

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    Arron Afflalo, SG, 6'5", 215 lbs

    Al Harrington, PF, 6'9", 250 lbs

    Jameer Nelson, PG, 6'0", 190 lbs

    Substitue: Hedo Turkoglu, SF, 6'10" 220 lbs 


    After moving Dwight Howard in a head shaking trade, the Magic are in full-blown rebuilding mode under head coach Jacque Vaughn. Their three-on-three team would certainly reflect the status of the franchise with an undersized and inconsistent team.

    Afflalo is a solid defender and would be able to slow down any guards on the court. Harrington adds a little bit of size without sacrificing too much offense. Nelson would have to run the offense, as he is the most consistent scorer of the bunch. Hedo Turkoglu would add some size and three-point shooting as a substitute.  

29. Detroit Pistons

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    Brandon Knight, PG, 6'3", 189 lbs

    Tayshaun Prince, SF, 6'9", 215 lbs

    Greg Monroe, C, 6'11", 250 lbs

    Substitute: Corey Maggette, SF, 6'6", 225 lbs 


    The Pistons don't have much offensive talent on their roster, but Brandon Knight played well throughout his rookie year making him a shoo-in for the three-man team. Tayshaun Prince adds length, which would help defensively, but doesn't add a whole lot of offense. Greg Monroe adds size as a down-low presence, both scoring and rebounding. Corey Maggette would make a fine substitute as an added scoring threat.

    This team wouldn't have enough offense to stay with more talented teams, and their defense isn't good enough to make up for it.  

28. Charlotte Bobcats

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    Kemba Walker, PG, 6'1", 184 lbs

    Bismack Biyombo, C, 6'9", 245 lbs 

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, 6'7", 232 lbs

    Substitute: Gerald Henderson, SG, 6'5", 215 lbs


    While the Charlotte Bobcats were the worst team in the NBA last season and might be again this year, they wouldn't have the worst three-on-three team. Walker showed he can be a legitimate NBA player with a solid rookie season. Biyombo has the size and ability to be a defensive monster if he can learn to better control his body. The Bobcats success with a three-man would depend on how quickly Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could adapt to playing against NBA players. Gerald Henderson would make a nice substitute off the bench as a versatile player.

    While the Bobcats are still ranked near the bottom of the league, this three-man squad would have the potential to be very good in the future.  

27. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Kyrie Irving, PG, 6'3", 191 lbs

    Anderson Varejao, PF, 6'11", 260 lbs 

    C.J. Miles, SF, 6'6", 222 lbs

    Substitute: Tristan Thompson, 6'9", 227 lbs


    Kyrie Irving was so impressive during his rookie season he made some Cavs fans forget about LeBron James.

    Okay, maybe that's not true, but Irving was very good, winning Rookie of the Year. Anderson Varejao is a rebounding machine and would help to retain possession, which is key in three-on-three basketball. C.J. Miles adds a little bit of everything to the team; he can score, pass and rebound. Tristan Thompson as a substitute would be another big man to either replace Varejao or Miles.

    The team would be as good as Irving plays. If he went all Uncle Drew at the park, this team could be much higher than 27th.  

26. Houston Rockets

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    Jeremy Lin, PG, 6'3", 200 lbs

    Kevin Martin, SG, 6'7", 185 lbs

    Patrick Patterson, PF, 6'9", 235 lbs

    Substitue: Royce White, SF/PF, 6'8", 270 lbs


    The Houston Rockets are in an odd state after the failed attempt to land Dwight Howard. They amnestied Luis Scola, who would form a very nice three-man team with Lin and Martin. The former would be obvious members of the team as the two best guards/players on the roster. Instead of Scola, Patrick Patterson is the pick. Patterson is an average scoring and rebounding power forward. 

    Royce White would make an intriguing substitute. The extremely versatile forward played almost very position at Iowa State, but his role in the NBA is unknown. He may struggle in the NBA finding a consistent role, but his versatility makes him a very good three-on-three prospect. 

25. Washington Wizards

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    John Wall, PG, 6'4", 195 lbs

    Nene, C, 6'11", 250 lbs 

    Jordan Crawford, SG, 6'4", 195 lbs

    Substitute: Trevor Ariza, SF, 6'8", 210 lbs


    John Wall's athleticism make him one of the most intriguing players in a three-on-three tournament. His ability to drive and create for his teammates in unlike most players in the league. The team would only be as good as the talent surrounding Wall. Nene and Jordan Crawford offer a mix of size and slashing ability that would make the Wizards at least competitive. 

    Trevor Ariza as a substitute would offer some extra size as both Crawford and Wall aren't the biggest players. 

24. New Orleans Hornets

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    Anthony Davis, PF, 6'10", 220

    Eric Gordon, SG, 6'3", 215 lbs

    Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, 6'9", 215 lbs 

    Substitute: Austin Rivers, SG, 6'4", 200 lbs


    The Hornets had a big offseason, landing Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers in the draft, re-signing Eric Gordon and getting a new owner. All three of those players would make the three-man roster, with Davis and Gordon starting and Rivers as the substitute.

    Davis is still plenty raw, but his size and athleticism are enough to create problems for defenders, and Aminu adds even more length to the Hornets' defense. Rivers would have plenty to prove, but his potential is enough to give him a spot. 

23. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Jrue Holiday, PG, 6'4", 180 lbs

    Evan Turner, SG, 6'7", 205 lbs 

    Andrew Bynum, C, 7'0", 285 lbs 

    Substitute: Thaddeus Young, PF, 6'8", 220


    The Philadelphia Sixers won out big this offseason, trading Andre Iguodala to land Andrew Bynum. It will help them during the season, but it wouldn't make them a great 3-on-3 team.

    Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner are both solid guards that can get to the hole and score well. Bynum would help the Sixers match up well against team using a bigger player, but against teams that went more athletic, they would be out of luck.

    Thaddeus Young would be an interesting substitute, taking away size from Bynum but adding more athleticism. The team would have to rely on Holiday and Turner making the most of their opportunities and being extremely careful with the basketball.

22. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Brandon Jennings, PG, 6'1", 169 lbs

    Monta Ellis, SG, 6'3", 185 lbs

    Ersan Ilyasova, PF, 6'10", 235 lbs

    Substitute: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, SF, 6'8", 230 lbs


    The Milwaukee Bucks would have two great scorers but not a lot of size in Jennings and Ellis. Ilyasova adds a little bit of size at 6'10", but his game his mostly offensive. This team would be able to score on most teams in a three-on-three games but would give up a ton of points. 

    Luc Richard Mbah a Moute would add a lengthy body and better defender, but it wouldn't be enough to make up for the defensive deficiencies of the others.

21. Toronto Raptors

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    Jose Calderon, PG, 6'3", 211 lbs

    DeMar DeRozan, SG, 6'7", 216 lbs

    Andrea Bargnani, C, 7'0", 256 lbs

    Substitute: Landry Fields, SG, 6'7", 215 lbs


    The Raptors would actually have the ingredients to make a successful 3-on-3 team, despite not having enough to be competitive during the NBA's regular season. Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan both have games that would adapt nicely to the open space of a three-on-three game. Andrea Bargnani adds a dominant force in the middle to contest shots.

    The issue for the Raptors would be stopping the other team and scoring consistently. As a substitute, Landry Fields isn't a consistent scorer but does add the potential to get hot and score points on offense.  

20. Utah Jazz

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    Mo Williams, PG, 6'1", 195 lbs

    Paul Milsap, PF, 6'8", 253 lbs

    Randy Foye, SG, 6'4", 213 lbs

    Substitute: Al Jefferson, C, 6'10", 289 lbs

    The Utah Jazz have been in rebuilding mode following the departure of Deron Williams but have accumulated some nice pieces, specifically Mo Williams and Randy Foye. Both of those players plus do-everything Paul Milsap would make a scrappy, offensive team. 

    That lineup would be rather small, despite Milsap packing some weight. To resolve that, Al Jefferson could be the substitute depending on the matchups. 

19. Sacramento Kings

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    Tyreke Evans, PG, 6'6", 220 lbs 

    Demarcus Cousins, PF, 6'11", 270 lbs

    Marcus Thornton, SG, 6'4", 205 lbs

    Substitute: James Johnson, SF, 6'9", 248 lbs


    The Kings have a great young core of players that would fit a three-on-three style tournament. Evans has great ball-handling which will allow him to create opportunities for himself and others. He can also use his size against smaller guards. Cousins is athletic for his size and would work well with Evans, getting open as defenders converge on Evans. Marcus Thornton adds another scoring option for the Kings. 

    James Johnson, as a substitute, would help keep the Kings a relatively big team. He can score the basketball and does a pretty good job rebounding the ball. A lineup of Evans, Johnson and Cousins would be extremely big, but a lot of the offensive burden would fall on Evans.

18. Phoenix Suns

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    Shannon Brown, SG, 6'4", 210 lbs 

    Michael Beasley, SF, 6'10", 235 lbs

    Luis Scola, PF, 6'9", 245 lbs

    Substitute: Jared Dudley, SF, 6'7", 225 lbs


    This lineup for the Suns wouldn't just be tall, but they would have plenty of size with the sturdy Luis Scola and Michael Beasley. Those two, plus Shannon Brown, are able to create for themselves and score the basketball multiple ways. That versatility would allow the Suns to flow more freely on offense and remain solid on defense.

    Jared Dudley would add a smaller body than Scola or Beasley but would bring some more quickness and athleticism to the lineup.  

17. Portland Trailblazers

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    LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, 6'11", 240 lbs

    Nicolas Batum, SF, 6'8", 200 lbs 

    Wesley Matthews, SG, 6'5", 220 lbs

    Substitute: Damian Lillard, PG, 6'3", 195 lbs


    The Trailblazers would be big and athletic with this lineup. In addition, they would be okay on defense with the length and size they have. LaMarcus Aldridge keeps getting better and better as an above average athletic power forward. Batum and Matthews can also score the basketball, as both are fairly good shooters.

    Rookie Damian Lillard is still unknown at the pro level, but if he lives up to the hype, you could replace him with Matthews and make the Trailblazers that much more dangerous. Lillard has all the tools to be a good point guard, it's just a matter of putting that together. 

16. Golden State Warriors

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    Stephen Curry, PG, 6'3", 185 lbs

    Klay Thompson, SG, 6'7", 205 lbs

    David Lee, PF, 6'9", 240 lbs

    Substitute: Andrew Bogut, C, 7'0", 260 lbs


    The Warriors made a big decision trading Monta Ellis away to get Andrew Bogut. It hurt the team down the stretch as Bogut was injured but allowed them to evaluate the talent they had. Klay Thompson was a shining spot for the Warriors last season with his impressive play. Thompson alongside Curry would be quite the pairing for three-on-three ball. 

    David Lee would get the nod over Andrew Bogut because of his athleticism. In full-court, with 10 players, Bogut is the better player, but with limited space, Lee is the guy. Against bigger teams, Bogut could play as the substitute. 

15. Atlanta Hawks

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    Josh Smith, PF, 6'9", 225 lbs  

    Al Horford, PF, 6'10", 250 lbs

    Lou Williams, PG, 6'1", 175 lbs

    Substitute: Anthony Morrow, SG, 6'5", 210 lbs


    This offseason was tough for the Hawks as Joe Johnson departed for Brooklyn. A lineup of Smith, Horford and Johnson would be really solid and fun to watch. Instead, the Hawks would have to settle for Lou Williams or Anthony Morrow. Both can score the basketball but don't shoot as well as Johnson. 

    It would take Williams or Morrow playing extremely well and shooting lights out for this team to have that much success. The athleticism is there, but the consistency isn't. 

14. Indiana Pacers

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    Danny Granger, SF, 6'8", 228 lbs

    Paul George, SG, 6'8", 215 lbs

    Roy Hibbert, C, 7'2", 260 lbs

    Substitute: David West, PF, 6'9", 240


    The Indiana Pacers would have a ton of potential with this lineup, as they have incredible size, athleticism and talent. Both Granger and George can create their own shots. It would take movement, clearing the lane to allow them to drive. 

    Roy Hibbert would be a big piece of the defense for the Pacers, but all three of those players are decent defenders. David West could come on without taking away size or much offense and add more toughness on defense. 

13. Dallas Mavericks

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    Dirk Nowitzki, PF, 7'0", 245 lbs

    Shawn Marion, SF, 6'7", 228 lbs

    O.J. Mayo, SG, 6'4", 210 lbs

    Substitute: Dahntay Jones, SG, 6'6", 235 lbs


    Dirk Nowitzki in a three-on-three tournament would be exceptional to watch. He would be the leading force for the Mavs team with Marion and Mayo as his teammates. Marion is a scrappy player who would add defense and an ability to hit an open shot. Mayo is a fine defender and can create with his dribble. 

    Dahntay Jones is another talented defender that could make the Mavs one of the more difficult defensive teams. Nowitzki is capable of defending most bigs because of his size, but he would struggle against the heavier centers. 

12. Memphis Grizzles

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    Rudy Gay, SF, 6'8", 230 lbs

    Mike Conley Jr., PG, 6'1", 185 lbs

    Zach Randolph, PF, 6'9", 260 lbs

    Substitute: Marc Gasol, C, 7'1", 265 lbs


    The Memphis Grizzles have a ton of athleticism but lack a true go-to man. That was supposed to be Rudy Gay, but injuries have prevented that from coming to fruition. Gay would have to be the man in a three-on-three game. His ability to both drive and shoot the ball would be tough to guard. Mike Conley and Zach Randolph add nice talent around Gay. 

    Gasol could be used against bigger teams, subbing in for either Randolph or possibly Conley. Either way, Gay would have to play great for the Grizzles to contend. 

11. Chicago Bulls

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    Derrick Rose, PG, 6'3", 190 lbs

    Joakim Noah, PF, 6'11", 232 lbs

    Luol Deng, SF, 6'9", 220 lbs

    Substitute: Taj Gibson, 6'9", 225 lbs


    Derrick Rose might be one of the best three-on-three players in the game with his quickness and ability to get to the basket, but his teammates would let him down. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are talented and have great size, but they just aren't the offensive weapons that would make a team with Rose so dangerous. 

    Substitute Taj Gibson would add even more toughness if he replaced Deng. The solid defense would slow down other teams, but the Bulls' ability to win would rest on how well Rose can play. 

10. Denver Nuggets

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    Ty Lawson, PG, 5'11", 195 lbs 

    JaVale McGee, C, 7'0", 252 lbs

    Andre Iguodala, SF, 6'6", 207 lbs

    Substitute: Kenneth Faried, PF, 6'8", 228 lbs


    Since he took over as GM, Masai Ujiri has put together quite the team in Denver following the Carmelo Anthony trade. A solid lineup of Lawson, McGee and Iguodala might be one of the most fun teams to watch, but not necessarily the best. Iguodala is an underrated defender, and McGee can clog the paint, but Lawson will easily get muscled out by bigger guards.

    Kenneth Faried as a substitute still provides the Nuggets with decent length if they took out McGee, but gives them a little more athleticism. Faried is also an extremely talented rebounder and can block shots just fine.  

9. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Kevin Love, PF, 6'10", 260 lbs 

    Ricky Rubio, PG, 6'4", 180 lbs

    Andrei Kirilenko, SF, 6'9", 235 lbs

    Substitute: Brandon Roy, 6'6", 211 lbs


    Minnesota is definitely a sleeper team next season with a healthy Ricky Rubio and an influx of new talent. Love's great play was rewarded with a spot on the Olympic team where he showed great range with his jumper, which would help spread the floor in a three-on-three game. Rubio's passing would be a great fit with Andrei Kirilenko's ability to slash. 

    The Timberwolves took a risk signing Brandon Roy to a two-year contract after he was forced to retire with knee issues. If Roy can regain his health, the deal is an absolute steal for the Timberwolves. As a substitute, Roy could replace Kirilenko as a slashing scorer. 

8. Boston Celtics

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    Paul Pierce, SF, 6'7", 235 lbs

    Rajon Rondo, PG, 6'1", 186 lbs

    Kevin Garnett, PF, 6'11", 253 lbs

    Substitute: Courtney Lee, SG, 6'5", 200 lbs


    The Big Three in Boston now includes Rajon Rondo instead of Ray Allen. That would be the three for the Boston Celtics. This team would be as good as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett shoot. With Rondo having the ball in his hands driving to the basket, Pierce and Garnett would get plenty of looks. 

    Courtney Lee is a nice option for the Celtics as well. He doesn't offer a ton of size but could replace Pierce or even Rondo. Lee, Pierce and Garnett would have to take care of the ball, but those three would do well in a three-on-three game. 

7. Brooklyn Nets

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    Deron Williams, PG, 6'3", 209 lbs

    Joe Johnson, SG, 6'7", 240 lbs 

    Brook Lopez, C, 7'0", 265 lbs

    Substitute: Gerald Wallace, SF, 6'7", 220 lbs

    If the Brooklyn Nets would have landed Dwight Howard, a trio of Williams, Johnson and Howard would probably put the Nets in the top two spots. While Brook Lopez is a more than capable center, he surely isn't Dwight Howard. A pairing of Williams and Johnson is quite good by itself, and this is a team that could do damage. 

    For a more athletic lineup, the Nets could use Wallace as a substitute for Lopez. Wallace is a great rebounder and does the little things that help his team win. 

6. New York Knicks

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    Carmelo Anthony, SF, 6'8", 230 lbs 

    Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, 6'11", 260 lbs

    Tyson Chandler, C, 7'1", 240 lbs

    Substitute: Ronnie Brewer, SG, 6'7", 227 lbs

    The Knicks would have one of the biggest teams with Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler. Anthony would absolutely destroy three-on-three basketball with his post-game and pull-up jumper. Chandler would do what he does best and guard the rim. He would likely be busy as Anthony and Stoudemire aren't the best defenders.

    The problem with his lineup is that, while it's great in the size department, it would struggle with quick guards. Ronnie Brewer as a substitute could help to stay with quicker players.  

5. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Chris Paul, PG, 6'0", 175 lbs

    Blake Griffin, PF, 6'10", 251 lbs

    Lamar Odom, PF, 6'10", 230 lbs

    Substitute: Jamal Crawford, 6'5", 200 lbs


    Another team that would be thrilling to watch, the Los Angeles Clippers have completely turned their franchise around with Griffin and Paul. Those two would be the mainstays in the three-on-three team for obvious reasons. Many lobs would be expected.

    The third spot is more open for debate. Lamar Odom, assuming he can return to his former self, would greatly play off of Paul and Griffin. His length would be nice to have on defense and rebounding, and his offense is adequate.

    Jamal Crawford would be a substitute for instant offense. It's what he does best. 

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Kevin Durant, SF, 6'9", 235 lbs 

    Russell Westbrook, PG, 6'3", 187 lbs

    Serge Ibaka, PF, 6'10", 235 lbs

    Substitute: Thabo Sefolosha, SG, 6'7", 215 lbs


    It's hard to put any team with Kevin Durant running the show as fourth, but the combination with Westbrook and one other player doesn't seem like the most successful situation for OKC. Durant and Westbrook both want the ball in their hands and the ability to shoot. 

    James Harden would be a popular pick to play the third spot or sub, but he adds primarily offense and the Thunder have plenty of that already in Westbrook or Durant. Bringing on a player that would have an impact defensively would be much wiser. Serge Ibaka or Thabo Sefolosha could do that job, albeit much differently. 

3. San Antonio Spurs

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    Tim Duncan, C, 6'11", 255 lbs

    Tony Parker, PG, 6'2", 185 lbs

    Manu Ginobili, SG 6'6", 205 lbs

    Substitute: Kawhi Leonard, SF, 6'7", 225 lbs


    The Spurs are built perfectly for three-on-three basketball with their never-aging core of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. Both the guards are built to drive and use that to their advantage. The extra space created by 3-on-3 is perfect. Add in a big man that can score and play defense, and the Spurs would be tough to beat.

    Kawhi Leonard would be a nice substitute because of his defensive abilities. He is a solid rebounder and got better as his rookie year progressed.  

2. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Kobe Bryant, SG, 6'6", 205 lbs 

    Steve Nash, PG, 6'3", 178 lbs 

    Dwight Howard, C, 6'11", 265 lbs

    Substitute: Pau Gasol, PF, 7'0", 250 lbs


    The Lakers pulled off a great offseason, putting new talent around Kobe Bryant in order to give it a last go at a few more titles. Bryant, Nash and Howard are the perfect blend of passing, scoring, defending and rebounding. They aren't the biggest team, but their overall talent and athleticism should dictate how games play out.

    Gasol is a perfect substitute and could even be used to replace any of the three players in the court, although I'm sure it would be hard to convince Bryant to take a break.    

1. Miami Heat

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    LeBron James, SF, 6'8", 250 lbs 

    Dwyane Wade, SG, 6'4", 220 lbs  

    Chris Bosh, PF, 6'11", 235 lbs

    Substitute: Rashard Lewis, SF, 6'10", 230 lbs


    At this point, any team with LeBron James on it will be tough to beat. Put Wade and Bosh at his side and they are the best three-on-three team in the NBA. There isn't a team out there that can successful guard James. He's playing incredible basketball and it would certainly take something special to stop his run.

    James can handle the ball extremely well, which would allow the Heat to use Rashard Lewis with James and Bosh for a big, athletic lineup.