NBA Power Rankings: Where Does Each "Big 3" Rank?
What exactly is a Big Three? Is it just a trio of players who score, or is it more than that?
A Big Three is a group of players who have worked or are working together to establish some type of chemistry throughout the season.
In some cases, the group puts up a lot of points, but in other cases, they work together to get stops on defense. Either way, the trio works together to get W's at the end of the day.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Gordon
Certainly the youngest budding Big Three in the NBA, the three-man tandem of Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan will be a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come.
Words can't describe the productivity of Griffin's rookie season. Not only did he win the Rookie of the Year Award and the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest (both by a landslide I might add), but he enshrined himself alongside elite company like Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabar by averaging better than 20 points and 10 rebounds in his rookie year.
Gordon lived under Griffin's shadow, but he was still incredibly productive at the shooting guard position. EG averaged 22.3 points and 4.4 assists on 36.4 percent shooting from downtown.
And now that the Clippers have vehemently expressed interest in shopping Chris Kaman, the young, athletic center in DeAndre Jordan is ready to take over and become a force on the defensive end.
Though he only played 25 minutes each game, Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Once these guys develop some type of three-way chemistry/bond, they'll be jumping over everyone in their way.
Boston Celtics: Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (Rajon Rondo)
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Let's face it, Boston's Big Three is absolutely nothing without Rajon Rondo.
Kevin Garnett, 35, averaged 14.9 points in both the regular season and the playoffs. The all-time leader in three-point makes, Ray Allen, 36, averaged 16.9 points throughout the regular season and increased that total to 18.9 for the playoffs, and Paul "The Truth" Pierce, 33, averaged 18.9 points in the regular season and 20.8 points in the postseason.
But they would all be nothing without Rondo's unselfishness and defensive prowess.
Averaging 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, and 2.3 steals per game, Rondo was the floor general for the aging Boston Celtics. And when Pierce, Garnett and Allen all retire, it'll be Rondo who carries HIS team back to the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker
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Though they might be the oldest group in the NBA, the veteran trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker still found a way to lead the San Antonio Spurs to the second best win percentage in the NBA.
Duncan, the surefire Hall of Famer, literally snuck into the the All-Star game, as his menial 13.4 points and 8.9 rebounds were enough to oust LaMarcus Aldridge's MVP effort. Nevertheless, his fundamental, old-school style of play has proven to still be effective up to this day.
Ginobili, one of the smoothest scorers in the NBA, has shown that he still doesn't shy away from the big time plays. Even though he's lost the title of the Spurs sixth man, Manu still averages 17.4 points (the second highest season average in his career) and 4.9 assists per game.
And though his three-point percentages dropped to a lackluster 34.9 percent, he's still proven that leaving him open from beyond the arc is a mistake worth being subbed out for.
Parker is the final piece to the puzzle, and though there have been several trade rumors thrown around about the Spurs trying to deal him, he's still an elite point guard in the NBA.
A major improvement was seen in his three-point shooting, as he increased his percentages to an above-average 35.7 percent from downtown. Parker averaged 17.5 points and 6.8 assists per game as he played the master facilitator in the Spurs master plans.
With Duncan signing a one-year contract extension with San Antonio, it looks as though the trio has one last year to make some magic happen. That is, of course, provided they don't deal Parker in the offseason.
Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol (Rudy Gay)
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Once upon a time, O.J. Mayo would've made this list with his dynamic scoring ability and his sharpshooting from deep.
But after a more than disappointing season for him and an injury-riddled season for Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol became the heart of Memphis, embodying their team slogan "Grit and Grind" to upset the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
Z-Bo (Randolph) was the Grizzlies' rock, averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds throughout the regular season. He never shied away from the pressure moments, and when the game was on the line, Z-Bo never faltered.
Randolph used an incredible array of post moves including the face up jumper, the up-and-under, and his automatic 15-foot fadeaway. For a player that lacks athleticism, Z-Bo was nothing short of impeccable last season.
Mike Conley was one of Memphis' biggest unsung heroes of the season. Living in the shadow of Randolph's production, Conley thrived as the facilitator of this young Grizzlies group.
His 13 points and 6.5 assists weren't flashy numbers, but the fourth-year guard did a great job running the offense and getting the ball into Randolph's hands when the team needed a bucket.
Marc Gasol also played a key role in the Grizzlies' playoff berth last season. He wasn't a main option on the offensive end, but Gasol crashed the boards and made a living through garbage buckets and mid-range jumpers, with the occasional post score.
He averaged 11.7 points and seven rebounds, but his biggest contribution was his 1.7 blocks per game, effectively acting as the Grizzlies defensive presence in the paint.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden
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Though it might seem like there's a bit of on-court friction between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, there's no question that they're one of, if not the biggest dynamic duo in the NBA. Adding the deep threat, James Harden, only makes matters worse for the opposition.
There was a lot of controversy throughout both the regular and postseasons about the amount of shot attempts Westbrook was taking. From the outside looking in, it seemed as though Robin was tired of being Batman's sidekick.
Westbrook averaged 21.9 points and 8.2 assists per game, which transitioned into 23.8 points and 6.4 assists in the postseason. However, he also averaged 20 shot attempts per game in the playoffs.
In the playoffs, Durant averaged 28.6 points on the same amount of shot attempts. Harden brought explosive offense off the bench, and though his numbers last season seemed to be a lower than normal, it was clearly a mistake to leave him open outside the three-point line.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd
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Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd make up the Dallas Mavericks' veteran trio. It was these three players who carried the Mavs to the Finals this season, and it will be the same three who try to repeat next year.
The NBA Finals MVP, Nowitzki averaged 23 points and seven rebounds throughout the regular season, but it was his incredible percentages that were eye-popping.
The White Mamba shot 51.7 percent from the field, 39.3 percent from downtown and 89.2 percent from the free-throw line, essentially highlighting him alongside Steve Nash as players to join the ever so coveted 50-40-90 club.
And when you think that's as good as it gets, Nowitzki somehow managed to increase his numbers for the playoffs! When the postseason rolled around, Dirk carried the Mavericks, raising his averages to 27.7 points and 8.2 rebounds on 48.5 percent shooting from the field, 46 percent from deep and 94.1 percent from the foul line.
He only missed 11 out of 186 free throws! If that's not efficiency, I don't know what is.
The second wheel to the Dallas Mavericks is their easily flammable shooter, Jason Terry. Dallas' sixth man averaged 15.8 points throughout the regular season, and he, too, increased his numbers to 17.5 points on 44.2 percent shooting from downtown.
And Jason Kidd, though his numbers weren't especially high, was equally as important to the Mavs success. Kidd ran the offense perfectly, putting the team over himself with his 8.2 assists and 7.9 points per game.
And when he was left open, the veteran sat back and knocked threes down at 34 percent. Not an outstanding percentage, but enough to keep him third in NBA history in three-point makes.
The Mavericks have about one more year to win another championship, but if they let the ball drop, they'll quickly lose whatever relevance they have left.
Portland Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge, Raymond Felton and Brandon Roy
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The Portland Trail Blazers' front office should have been nominated for ESPY's. Every single one of them.
First, they went out and nabbed Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline for the oft-injured Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and a 2011 first-round draft pick via the New Orleans Hornets through the Jerryd Bayless trade.
Then, the front office worked their black and red magic again to snag Raymond Felton and the Dallas Mavericks 26th-overall pick, Jordan Hamilton, for Rudy Fernandez, a player who was already in bad standing in Portland, and Andre Miller, the veteran, bully-ball point guard.
Now, it's hard to put a finger on three set players for the Blazers to run through, but provided the team is healthy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Felton with a high dose of Wallace will be how Portland dominates the league.
All-Star snub Aldridge averaged 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds throughout the regular season, and those numbers were higher before Marcus Camby and B-Roy returned from their knee injuries.
In a Trail Blazers jersey, "Crash" Wallace averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and two steals per game, hounding the ball on both sides of the court and "crashing" the boards with the best rebounders.
Roy still needs to finish rehabilitating and tending to his knees, but at his best, he's an unstoppable mid-range scorer. We saw shades of the past in Game 3 against the Dallas Mavs, where he led the fourth-quarter comeback, and hopefully, that is only shades of things to come.
Now, the Blazers have picked up an important piece to the puzzle in Raymond Felton. Felton spreads the court, something that Miller could never do, as he shot an impeccable 45.9 percent from downtown.
Once he gets in the flow of the system and fully understands exactly what Blazer basketball is—a very meticulous half-court offense with a staunch defense and a high transition completion percentage—Felton will become exactly what the doctor ordered.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
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Let's get one thing straight. The Los Angeles Lakers will always be Kobe Bean Bryant's team, no matter who you put around him.
At the tender age of 32, Kobe still found ways to get it done, as he led the Lakers with 25.3 points per game last season. Not only did he lead the team in scoring, but the "Black Mamba" also slithered away with 4.7 assists per game, leading the Lakers in the distributing department as well.
However, now that the Zen Master, coach Phil Jackson, has retired and the triangle offense was virtually thrown out of the window, Kobe will have to work with the new coach Mike Brown on getting the two big men involved down low even more.
Pau Gasol has been criticized as being "soft" and "weak," but he definitely silenced all of those critics with his play last season. Gasol played as physical as a European can play and banged down low to crash the board in an effort that landed him 10.2 rebounds to accompany his 18.8 points and 1.6 blocks per game.
But it is Andrew Bynum, as injury prone as he may be, who seems to be the future of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise.
Though he only played 54 regular season games this season, the ceiling for this young center is incredibly high. Bynum averaged close to a double-double with 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and two blocks per game.
He's got a bit of tweaking to do with his game, but once he stays healthy for an extended period of time, he'll be able to get it going in an instant.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups
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Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups formed a Big Three in the Big Apple, and though they disappointed their fans by getting swept in the first round of the playoffs, they've got the potential to take New York City by storm.
Stoudemire got off to a hot start at the beginning of the season, going on a tear with nine consecutive 30-plus point games. However, after the trade that sent the two Denver stars, Melo and Billups, to the Knicks, you could see that team chemistry was one of the biggest issues.
Melo increased his three-point percentage to 42.4 percent after the trade and averaged 26.3 points as a member of the Knicks. It sounds like all was well for him in the big city, but he was the subject of much scrutiny when people began to question his shot selection.
Anthony averaged 4.6 attempts from downtown per game in a Knicks jersey, which was over two more than he shot in Denver. His trips to the free-throw line also decreased, as well as his rebounds per game.
"Big Shot" Billups' injury was a big reason the Knicks got swept in the playoffs, but going forward, his veteran leadership and sharpshooting will be an integral part of New York's success.
His three-point numbers took a huge dip after the trade—Billups numbers dropped from 44.1 percent to an abysmal 32.8 percent from deep—but he too began jacking up shots in the fast paced Mike D'Antoni offense.
Like the Miami Heat, the Knicks' three-man tandem need time to work out the kinks and develop some chemistry with each other. Once Stoudemire and Anthony learn how to play off of each other, the Knicks will be a team to fear in the NBA.
Miami Heat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh
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After King LeBron James decided to "bring his talents to South Beach," the Miami Heat became the subject of much scrutiny, hatred, fanaticism and controversy.
Combining James with the electric, smooth style of Dwyane Wade and the overly flamboyant, yet consistent Chris Bosh, the Heat were destined for a long playoff run. And though they fell just short of a championship, Miami became a team that was feared by the NBA.
James' numbers may have dropped to the lowest since his rookie year, but he still put up huge numbers alongside other big named talents. "The King" averaged 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, seven assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Pretty outstanding numbers to be the worst since his rookie year, right?
It was his numbers in the postseason, however, that would draw more negative attention than any other aspect of his game. Bron's numbers floundered to 23.7 points and 5.9 assists in the playoffs, and while one may perceive that as a productive run, many saw it as "choking."
Wade came second on the Heat in scoring with 25.5 points per game and also added 4.6 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. His point average slightly dropped in the playoffs, but he didn't receive nearly as much criticism as James.
As for Bosh, well, he was definitely the most consistent of the Big Three. Though his numbers dropped significantly from his days in Toronto, the dynamic power forward still averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
And those numbers ran congruent throughout the playoffs as well.
Miami's Big Three will win championships; it's only a matter of time. The only question is how many, and how long will it take before they finally get it together.
And as the avid LeBron James hater that I am, it pains me to say it, but this year's Finals run was only the beginning.