With pre-season play now firmly on the horizon, and teams settling into styles as training camps rumble on, just which teams can lay claim to having the best ‘‘Big threes’’ in the league?
To call the recent NBA offseason turbulent would be an understatement – shock departures and blockbuster trades have occurred with regularity. From Chris Paul’s sudden trade to the Houston Rockets to the equally shocking Kyrie Irving trade, this has been a period of huge change in the association.
However, with pre-season play now firmly on the horizon, and teams settling into styles as training camps rumble on, just which teams can lay claim to having the best ‘‘Big threes’’ in the league?
Carry on reading to find out:
Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson
Whilst teams all around them have scrambled in the great offseason arms race, the defending champion Warriors have maintained the same core of players that has seen them reach each of the previous three NBA finals.
Naturally, this group is headlined by a pair of MVP’s. Steph Curry, drafted by the Warriors in 2009, has long been the face of the franchise, and his outstanding rise to superstardom has mirrored that of his team. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, was pivotal in the Warriors’ relatively easy march to last seasons title, following a questionable and divisive move to the team in 2016.
No team in the NBA is able to boast four all-stars as the Warriors do, but whilst Draymond Green is the glue that holds this team together, Klay Thompson is the true third cog on this team. The oft-forgotten half of the ‘’splash brothers’’ is one of the greatest long range shooters the league has ever seen, and is equally adept going to the basket and on the defensive end.
Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love
Kyrie Irving’s trade request earlier in the summer rocked the league to it’s core, and his subsequent trade to the Boston Celtics represented a seismic shift in the East, or so we thought.
Lebron James remains undoubtedly the most impactful player in the league, whilst Kevin Love is a quality big man in his own right, despite criticism of him in recent seasons. However, it is the new additions to the team who have truly caught the eye. Isaiah Thomas, acquired in return for Irving, was sensational last season, and would be the second star on this team if a hip injury were not keeping him out till January.
It is, however, the recent signing of Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade which has got tongues wagging. Having previously campaigned alongside James in Miami as part of the original big three (with Chris Bosh), the two close friends combining once more could have an explosive outcome.
Oh, and they added a former league MVP in Derrick Rose to their roster earlier this summer, so there’s that little tidbit.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
Russell Westbrook, fresh off a stunning MVP winning season wherein he averaged a triple-double, will once more be entrusted to lead the team on which he was drafted nearly a decade ago. However, having boasted an astounding 41.7% usage rate in 2016/17, he will be expected to share the ball with his new teammates.
George (28.0ppg) has finally received the opportunity to play alongside other stars, and will no doubt acquiesce to Westbrook’s need for the ball.
However, it is Anthony (22.4ppg) who will be the wildcard. While it is true that he has been happy to concede his usage rate in international play, whether he can shed his ball stopper reputation over the course of an 82-game-season is another question.
In the overcrowded West, how these three talents mould together could make the difference between a second seed and not making the playoffs at all.
Kyrie Irving Gordon Hayward Al Horford
Very few teams in the East would have a sniff at the Western Conference playoffs this year. The ‘C-green smash machine’ are one of those teams, and are primed for a deep run in the offseason this year.
The addition of Irving came out of the blue, but has somehow reinvigorated a team that was already set to compete at the very top for several seasons to come.
The free agent saga of Gordon Hayward, whilst less surprising in it’s outcome, was equally as drawn out, and he is expected to make a fantastic second option for the team.
Finally, whilst young recent draftees Jalen Brown and Jayson Tatum are expected to have an impact this season, it is four time all-star Horford who will be expected to spell the teams brighter lights on both ends of the floor. An excellent midrange shooter and underrated rebounder, the 31-year-old Dominican could be on the verge of a resurgent season in 2017/18.