No one can doubt the success that Miami's Big Three have had this year. The effect of three stars of their stature joining forces to reek havoc on the NBA will be felt for a long time.
The Boston Celtics can boast that they beat everyone to the punch with this concept, but the group that they put together was not in their prime. Paul Pierce was the only one in the group that was somewhat still in his prime.
Don't think for a moment that the wheels are not turning in the heads of other class A stars about their futures and what they want them to look like. If Miami wins the championship this year (and even if they don't), one of the big questions will be is there another group of stars, or another big three that could challenge them for the top spot?
If we really want to face the facts, all the teams in the NBA, except a handful, will have no chance to win a championship without enough star power on their roster. They know it, the league knows it, and the players know it. They may be successful to a degree in the regular season, but when the playoffs get here it will be a different story. Winning a four out of seven series deep in the playoffs requires stars that can put their team on their backs and get it done at both ends of the floor. Coaching at critical parts of the game is important as well.
Looking at the league as it is now there is one potential big three that I believe would match up very well with the Heat and give them fits. A New York Knicks team with a core of Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Paul, with a few spare parts, would match very favorably with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh.
First off, Chris Paul would be a match up problem for the Heat because no one player can keep him from getting in the paint when he wants to. CP3 has shown that when healthy he can score and create at will, as we saw in the series with L.A. The Lakers had to resort to double teaming him to get the ball out of his hands. The problem then was that when he gave the ball up, his teammates couldn't finish.
With the Knicks, doubling Paul would be a disaster because he would just give it to Melo or Stat and they can operate one on one. That goes against the defensive philosophy of the Heat, and it would be a disaster letting two of the best offensive players in the league operate one on one with no help.
Let's say you don't double him. As we have seen, CP3 has the ability to take his man one on one and put him on a string. He can score with the jump shot, get to the rim, or create for this teammates. He is the ultimate quarterback, which is what the point guard is on the court.
There would be no issues with who the closer is, or who gets the ball in crunch time. Paul would decide that, and Melo and Stat would trust him because nobody does it better. Keep in mind that you can't do what Miami did against Chicago and put Lebron on Paul because you create a favorable match up for Melo. You could put Wade on Paul, but that wouldn't slow Paul down.
If Kobe couldn't corral him one on one, Wade would not either.
Keep in mind that regardless of how good a defender that Lebron is, Carmelo Anthony is and will be a tough match up for him. To put it plainly, he can't stop Melo. Melo can score on anybody and James is no exception. He has the bulk and the size so that Lebron doesn't have an edge there. Melo is quicker than he looks and can score on Lebron even if King James is draped all over him.
The defensive side of the ball as a team is where New York would need to improve because Miami is solid on that side. The Knicks would have to add a serviceable defensive-minded center, like a Tyson Chandler, to take the pressure off of Stoudemire, guard the paint and rebound the ball.
They would also need a defensive-minded coach, which is probably in the works now that Walsh is not coming back as President. That is a must. A defensive-minded two guard would help as well.
We could talk about Dwight Howard on the Lakers, or Chris Paul going to Orlando to play with Howard, or even Derron Williams going to any number of teams. The Heat would still have the edge on those teams.
CP3 fits best on the Knicks. Whether or not they can land him is another story.
Cap room will not be the issue if they sign him as a free agent in a year. If that happens and they make some wise smaller moves, then the Heat dynasty would all of a sudden be in jeopardy. I wouldn't bet against it seeing that the Knickerbockers have added Melo and Stoudemire.
The only thing that could mess this up is if they do something ridiculous like bringing back Isiah Thomas. They would incur the wrath of the fans, and make players think twice before signing.
Even with the impending lockout, the off-season promises to be almost as interesting as it was last year.
We will begin the speculation one second after the 2011 NBA champion is crowned.